Washington, DC – Military experts with years of active duty behind them, and prominent civilian legal pundits, welcomed the statement by the top US military officer that he was wrong to have joined President Donald Trump during his controversial walk on June 1, to a damaged church opposite the White House.
Speaking in a video message for a National Defense University commencement ceremony, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Of Staff, said: “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
“As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”
Welcoming the message, John F. Kirby, CNN Diplomatic and Military Analyst told IAT, “General Milley’s comments about the need to keep the military out of politics were timely and — all too sadly these days — appropriate to the pressures under which our troops labor. He was right to point out that he himself got mixed up in it.”
“But we shouldn’t lose sight of the importance of what else he said. Too often, the military burdens itself with a zero-defect mentality. They don’t make it easy to own up to errors in judgement,” continued Kirby, a dedicated former naval officer and former spokesperson for the Pentagon.
“Having the most senior officer in the ranks admit a serious mistake – and make clear he intends to learn from it – will serve as a powerful example to junior officers and troops that no one is immune from screwing up and that no one’s credibility is enhanced by refusing to admit it,” added Kirby, who also successfully served as the State Department spokesperson.
Taking a leaf out of glorious traditions of the US military, Ravi Batra, Chair, National Advisory Council South Asian Affairs in a statement said: “The reason why our nation has always had a peaceful transfer of power after each presidential election – unique in history – is because our nation’s independence was won by General George Washington, who became our First President from 1789 to 1797 and stepped down. The military has always remained apolitical, to ensure civilian rule in our separated powers regime.”
Applauding the acceptance of a misstep by General Milley, Attorney Batra added, “General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has honored that noble principle by admitting his error, and acted as General George Washington would have if alive today.”
In a statement to IAT, Jasdip Singh Jesse, Chair, Sikhs of America felt that “General Milley is completely aligned with President Trump, noting, “He was talking about doing a photo-op in military uniform.”
The general was wearing combat fatigues as he walked with the president, and criticism from different quarters pointed out that the presence of the uniformed general suggested his support for the deployment of the military against protesters.
Just before Trump’s controversial walk to the church, where he held up a Bible for a photo opportunity, peaceful protestors were forcibly dispersed to clear the way for him. Defence Secretary Mark Esper, along with a host of other officials, also joined Trump in the walk to the church.
Calling Milley’s message a “Very important sign of the increasing isolation of Donald Trump and the military’s refusal to align with the president over race, discrimination and police brutality, Shada Islam, Independent EU Commentator and Analyst from Brussels told IAT: “Milley is siding with the people on this explosive issue, spotlighting the fact that unlike the president, he has a conscience and understands the power and significance of the current public anger in the streets of America.”
Summing up the mood of the episode, Washington, DC-based Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig, an attorney told IAT: “The general’s apology reassures legal traditionalists” adding, “because the US military should have no role under longstanding law in suppressing protests, particularly when they are largely peaceful and otherwise non-compliant with the narrow exceptions to the law forbidding US military actions against the American public.”