It is a binary choice — that is obvious at least to every active duty member of the American military.
Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be their commander in chief.
Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will select the secretary of defense.
Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will select the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy, the service chiefs, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nine heads of the Combatant Commands.
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Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will sign off on the next four proposed budgets for the Department of Defense.
Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will decide how to respond to the next Moammar Gadhafi marching on his own people, the next Benghazi surprise attack on an American installation, the next red line crossed where WMD are used, the next Vladimir Putin aggression against a near-helpless neighbor.
Civilians, it seems to me, shouldn’t sit out an election because they don’t like the choices, not while American fighting men and women are in harm’s way, flying missions to attack the Islamic State from carriers or as part of special forces deployments in Kurdistan or Syria. Civilians are being protected from our enemies by sailors deploying under and on the sea for six months at a time — minimum — or by soldiers and Marines in far away places like Kosovo for more than a year at a time.
The civilians get to go to the movies, play golf, have a beer. The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines get to pull watch or, at times, go into combat.
Civilians owe the military their best judgment as voters as to who ought to be the commander in chief and whose team ought to take up the positions in the Pentagon that are a part of the approximately 3,000 appointees the new president will bring with him or her. When active duty military are putting their lives on the line, civilian voters ought to at least put themselves through the stress of making a necessary if unpalatable choice.
When House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it perfectly clear that there would be no mutiny at the GOP convention in Cleveland, the obligation to choose between Clinton and Trump became very obvious to me. Once Ryan and McConnell closed all the exit ramps, I quickly chose Trump for a host of reasons, the most important being the inescapable conclusion that former Secretary of State Clinton’s law-breaking maintenance of the unsecured server handed our enemies a complete dossier on her and her associates. I have expert testimony on this reality given to me on the record on air by former Deputy CIA Director Mike Morell and off the record by a former senior CIA operations officer.
This is the reality of the situation, and the hack of the DNC by Russian intelligence agencies, which was revealed last week, is just more evidence of our enemies’ capabilities and intentions. Those clinging to the idea that there is no proof of the compromise of the Clinton server fool themselves and no one else. She is disqualified because she is compromised. The Russians and who knows which other powers can manipulate her and her electronic associates. That’s why nations collect intelligence…to use it. It is doubtful that any of our adversaries have ever known more about any of our leaders that the Russians et al know about Clinton. Not even Alger Hiss could have given the Soviets more on FDR than the Russians took from Clinton’s home-brew server.
There is also the matter of Clinton’s disastrous record as secretary of state, beginning with her record of failure in Libya writ large throughout that failed state that is now an Islamic State colony, and in Benghazi specifically on the night of 9/11/12.
There is her record of dithering and disaster in Egypt that handed the country for a time to the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s her judgment on display: Ceding the key Arab state to the brotherhood and tossing aside a reliable American ally in the process. What must Egyptian President Sisi think of the approach of a second President Clinton.
Her “Russian reset” button was far worse than an episode of merely embarrassing buffoonery. It was actually an expression of deep seated naïveté regarding Putin, one likely to be repeated again and again. Her incompetence doesn’t end with Russia. Her role in the failure to negotiate an extension of the Bush-era Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq precipitated President Obama’s abrupt and tragic bug-out of Iraq in late 2011, which led to the Islamic State rampage across Iraq from its first home in Syria.
And the Syrian genocide and all that it has birthed including and especially the long and deadly tentacles of the Islamic State across the West even into a nightclub in Orlando and a conference room in San Bernardino are all on her scorecard. Negligence in the carrying out of her duties to cabin and defeat the “jayvees” is not the same as direct responsibility for the atrocities of the terrorists, but it is very predictive of the lack of seriousness we could expect from her and her team if she wins in the fall. It’s a given that she will strike poses as President Obama has struck poses, and with the same consequences. “Leading from behind,” “red lines” that get erased, and condescension towards fanatical “jayvees” are a given with her as they have been with President Obama. His legacy is her platform. It is inevitable.
As is her party’s reflexive underfunding of the military; the hollowing out of every Defense Department budget for the next four years; the readiness crisis that consumes major components of the services; and the loss of a generation of skilled officers to budget irresponsibility that is the hallmark of the left that Clinton personifies and leads.
So this inescapable binary choice it is an easy choice for me, and one I will make because either she or Trump will be commander in chief. No third party throw away ballots or symbolic gestures. One of two people will command the Warriors. The far riskier path for the country is choosing Clinton as that one of two, but I will respect the wrong-headed voters who pull that lever on the basis of wooly-headed reasoning or thread-bare rationalizations. I will never understand those who refuse to choose when a choice must be made. That is not a choice, it seems to me, of anyone who genuinely believes in self-government.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.