Defence leaders say no to Trump’s troops idea
Mattis, who differs with Trump’s handling of the protests and his threats to deploy the military to end the unrest, joins a growing list of top defence leaders, past and present, who have either openly criticised Trump or distanced themselves from him.Updated: Jun 05, 2020 05:54 IST
In a clear rebuke to US President Donald Trump, former defence secretary James Mattis on Wednesday sided with people who had been protesting outside the White House over George Floyd’s killing.
Mattis, who differs with Trump’s handling of the protests and his threats to deploy the military to end the unrest, joins a growing list of top defence leaders, past and present, who have either openly criticised Trump or distanced themselves from him.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people, does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in a statement to the news publication The Atlantic.
His remarks came hours after Mark Esper, his successor at the Pentagon, tried to distance himself from Trump’s threat to use US military personnel against protesters.
Esper said that he doesn’t support invoking the Insurrection Act, which is a significant departure from Trump’s plan to use the 200-year-old law to deploy military forces domestically.
Demonstrations in cities across the US to condemn racism and police abuses remained large but subdued. At least 10,000 protesters have been arrested so far. On Wednesday, a police officer was stabbed and at least two people shot in Brooklyn, hours into the curfew in New York City.
Former chairman of the US chiefs of staff Mike Mullen wrote in a piece in The Atlantic, “I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops. Certainly, we have not crossed the threshold that would make it appropriate to invoke the provisions of the Insurrection Act.”
John Allen, a retired general who headed US-led forces in Afghanistan, wrote in Foreign Policy, “Right now, the last thing the country needs is the appearance of US soldiers carrying out the president’s intent by descending on American citizens.”
Trump is trying to convince various states to use military reservists of the National Guard, specially in New York City. “If they don’t get it straightened out soon, I’ll take care of it,” Trump told News Max TV.