President Donald Trump, so far as we can know or tell, was elected in November to be the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But that apparently doesn’t mean what it used to mean, because we’re seeing an awful lot of insubordination from the military brass when it comes to the president’s decree on transgender enlistment.
Fair enough that we’ve heard from generals who say they will wait for direction to come from the Pentagon – it’s appropriate for there to be a clear and precise direction and these men know they must follow the chain of command. But a few of them are speaking out in such stark terms against the ban that we’re beginning to wonder if they don’t need a refresher course on who’s actually in charge here.
This week, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft said he would not “break faith” with the transgender sailors under his command. Which is not only running up to the edge of insubordination but is actively ludicrous, since there are (officially) only 13 transgender Coast Guard members currently serving in that branch of the military.
“I reached out personally to Lt. Taylor Miller, who was featured on the cover of The Washington Post last week,” Zukunft said. “If you read that story, Taylor’s family has disowned her. Her family is the United States Coast Guard. And I told Taylor, ‘I will not turn my back. We have made an investment in you, and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard, and I will not break faith.'”
In an interview, Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized President Trump for announcing the ban.
“We need to have a hearing, not a tweet,” said Graham. “Let the military tell us about the policy change, what it does, does it affect the people currently serving, and what is the recommendation.”
Well, that’s Graham’s opinion and he’s entitled to it, but that’s not the way things work. The president, by all accounts, has the full right as commander-in-chief to make this kind of policy without the slightest input from Congress. So let’s cool it on “what we need.” What we need is for the Pentagon to make it crystal clear that no matter how many generals and admirals disagree with Trump’s decision, the order will be followed through to the letter. Sure, wait for official White House guidance. No one expects the military to go into chaos based on a tweet. But some of this talk about simply not bothering to implement the rule at all is disturbing and un-American.
The liberal courts in this country, with their opposition to Trump’s travel ban, have already begun chipping away at the president’s rightful authority over foreign policy. Now it seems that certain forces inside the Pentagon are trying to do the same with his authority over the military. The transgender issue may not be the most important topic facing our country right now, but it has shed a light on what could become a major, MAJOR problem in the weeks, months, and years to come.