President Trump’s stated intent to pardon US troops and a mercenary either convicted or charged with war crimes violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and sets dangerous precedents for retaliation, the continued erosion of American values, low morale and command implications. The recipients of these pardons include a Blackwater mercenary and US troops involved in murder, desecration of enemy bodies, and “going rogue”.

Military is existentially dehumanizing. Horrible things happen. Fear is off the chart. Boundaries are clouded. Many horrible things happen. To be clear, compliance with the UCMJ does not “sanitize” war. It merely outlines a consensually validated code of conduct—for killing each other.

Green-lighting prohibited behaviors invites their repetition. It sends the message to adversaries and allies alike that all options are on the table for the US. All the enemy acts that our leaders define as barbaric, inhumane, horrible, and in violation of international agreements are all available for our (US) use in combat.

As has been said with sickening regularity because of so many other aberrations in US executive behavior and policies, “We’re better than this!”

Click here for a NYT opinion piece on this subject. Here’s another related article from Foreign Policy.

Gary MayComment