Trump’s troops: far right has a tight grip on too many people in uniform

Everyone surely remembers Donald Trump’s calls for “law and order” right down to his infamous full-page ad condemning the (innocent) Central Park Five titled “Bring Back the Death Penalty, Bring Back Our Police.” When he ran for office, he appealed to law enforcement at all levels as a low-key constituency, promising them to let them remove their gloves and encouraging them not to “be so nice” to them. suspects. During George Floyd’s protests in the summer of 2020, he told federal law enforcement and military leaders that he wanted them to “break skulls” and “smash” protesters. At one point he said, “Just shoot them.” Fortunately, they didn’t. It took a dedicated and Trump-loving vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse to carry out this order.

Until the January 6 insurgency, Trump was the nation’s most vocal police advocate. But that day he was strangely reserved, tweeting lukewarmly that rioters should be respectful but remain virtually inactive for hours as his enraged supporters stormed the United States Capitol and assaulted hundreds of police officers attempting to ‘prevent crowds from attacking members of Congress. That night he said the violent horde who did the following were very special and that he loved them.

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You would have thought that this abject betrayal of Trump’s alleged loyalty to the men in uniform would have shaken their faith in him. But according to this new profile of former DC Metropolitan Police Officer (and Trump Voter) Michael Fanone by Molly Ball of TIME, most of his former force colleagues remain devoted to Trump. Fanone stepped forward to speak publicly about what had happened in order to defend the police who were attacked that day. It hadn’t occurred to him that the police themselves wouldn’t support him:

Perhaps officers like him and Dunn, who wanted Trump held accountable, were the exception. Looking at the body camera footage again, he noticed how many cops were standing around, kibiting with the rioters. He thought of his MPD colleagues: of more than 3,000 in service, about 850 had responded to Capitol Hill. And all the others ?

The ball continues:

Where was his backup? Where was the police union, which rushed to defend any officer criticized by leftist politicians? The Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP), which backed Trump in 2016 and 2020, issued a lukewarm statement on January 6 urging “all involved to reject the use of violence and to obey the orders of the forces of the United Nations. ‘order to ensure that these events are brought to a speedy and peaceful end. “Many active-duty FOP members have since been charged in connection with the riot. In at least one case, the union is trying to prevent a rioter accused of being fired by his department …

The colleagues he has known for decades no longer speak to him. Guys who never called to check in when he was in the hospital send him taunting memes about his status as a liberal sweetheart.

Fanone thought he was speaking on behalf of his fellow officers. But he wasn’t. And he asks himself today: “Would the vast majority of the police have been on the other side of these battle lines?”

That’s the question, isn’t it? Police on duty that day were protecting members of Congress from a violent mob who were trying to prevent the transfer of power. And is there ambivalence among the cops as to whether this was the right thing to do? It’s scary.

And it’s not just the police. Trump’s love for men in uniform was not limited to law enforcement. He also considered the army to be a constituency and was very popular among the troops. In fact, he was so popular that a number of active-duty military personnel were among the rioters on January 6. Many are also members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group of former and current military and law enforcement.

Last month, the Pentagon released new guidelines on how to tackle extremism within the ranks, which they now realize is a growing problem. The Washington Post reported that the University of Maryland consortium “last month released a report showing that since 1990, 458 extremist-related crimes have involved US veterans or active duty soldiers.” In fact, the worst terrorist attack on American soil prior to September 11, the Oklahoma City bombing, was carried out by an Army veteran who radicalized during his service and then joined a militia. far right.

The military really has no idea how big this problem is.

When you consider that someone like former General Michael Flynn, a far-right conspiracy theorist and Trump’s senior national security adviser, was in charge of military intelligence just a few years ago, he is clear that this problem is not limited to the base. There are probably quite a few extremists among the active-duty military as well.

So once again this begs the question, what if it happens again? Three retired generals recently wrote an op-ed asking the same question. They note the participation of active-duty and retired personnel in the Jan.6 uprising as well as a number of retired general officers who have signed on to support Trump. And they came up with this mind-boggling scenario as a possibility:

The potential for a complete break in the chain of command along partisan lines – from the top of the chain to the squad level – is significant if another insurgency were to occur. The idea of ​​rogue units organizing themselves to support the “legitimate” commander-in-chief cannot be ruled out …

All military personnel take an oath to protect the US Constitution. But in a contested election, with divided loyalties, some could follow the orders of the rightful Commander-in-Chief, while others could follow the loser Trumpian. Weapons might not be secure depending on who supervised them. In such a scenario, it is not absurd to say that a military breakdown could lead to a civil war.

The prospect of law enforcement and military personnel breaking up into dishonest commands seems to come out of a political thriller. And that’s probably not very likely. But then the election of Donald Trump was unlikely as was the January 6 insurgency. I would have thought that it was unlikely that police officers would defend a vicious crowd by beating other cops with flag poles or that active duty military would participate in it boldly. We should all recognize by now that whatever It could happen.

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