It has been reported that Russian authorities are paying the Taliban in Afghanistan bounties for killing American soldiers. It is also reported that the Trump administration has known this for more some time and has chosen to do nothing.
The inability of President Trump, for whatever reason, to bring the Russians to account on this issue and others sends a clear message relating to a dangerous betrayal of an institution whose duty is to keeps us safe. The President’s unpatriotic behavior also threatens the historical and Constitutional order associated with civilian authority over institutions.
Among the French stories that fascinated me during my early childhood was The Count of Monte Cristo (1844) by Alexander Dumas and the stories about the epic Chanson de Roland (11th Century). The Chanson or Song of Roland tells the epic tale of war and death of Roland who commanded Charlemagne’s rear guard at the battle of Roncevaux Pass in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains (778) against the Basques.
Much like “El Cantar del Mio Cid” (12th Century) that forms the basis for Spanish national identity, the Song of Roland did the same for France. I still remember the cover of the story book that pictures Roland on horseback leading a charge with his indestructible sword “Durandal” held up high.
The value of these stories are that they not only establish the notion of a people as a nation, but also, identifies the military as an institution that guarantees its existence and guards its progress. The armed forces have always had a special role to play in the life of a society.
In America, our founders were careful to establish civilian control over all of our institutions including the military. In return, the institutions can expect the necessary resources and support to do the work of maintaining the integrity of the nation.
As a super power, the United States has projected its military presence to make space for other American institutions to share our ideas of democratic government, economic models and trade. Today, our military is also involved in international conflicts in several fronts around the world with the enemies of freedom and good order.
Over the years our nation has elected leaders that have had to deploy our military in national and international life and death wars and confrontations with varying results. President Lincoln successfully took us through a civil war to preserve the union and abolish slavery.
President Wilson led the nation into World War I with ideals for world unity that were not realized. President Roosevelt brought us into two-ocean world war and managed a generation that created America as a super power.
President Reagan used America’s enormous economic and military strength to face down the Soviet Union and usher in it demise. President George W. Bush brought our military face to face with a non-traditional asynchronous warfare and terrorism as a weapon in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the United States.
Since the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump has sought to undermine the mission of our governmental institutions in order force them to serve him instead of the country. The most dangerous are the actions against our military because this is our primary instrument of war.
This unprecedented betrayal of institutional order is, in part, responsible for the President’s problematical political future especially if he loses and does not accept the election results in November. If that is the case, guess what institution will do the honors of ushering him out of the White House.