Letter to the Editor

Loyal warriors or killing machines?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

For hundreds of years and many wars, American soldiers have dealt lethally in combat against our enemies. Sadly, there have been instances when a few misguided warriors have committed crimes against nonbelligerents, which in order to maintain discipline, military justice demanded punishment for the offending soldiers.

Recently two American soldiers were convicted of murdering noncombatants, one even admitting his guilt. President Donald Trump then issued a pardon for the two saying “We train our boys to be killing machines, then prosecute them when they kill.” Another case surfaced when Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher posed with a photo of an executed 17-year-old Islamic State group prisoner and then texted it to a friend writing “Good story behind this. Got him with my hunting knife.” Military justice demanded action and Gallagher was demoted and stripped of his SEAL qualifications. Trump, then trying to strike a pose of being sympathetic to a warrior while simultaneously totally undermining military commanders, ordered the disciplinary actions rescinded and all Gallagher’s charges dropped.

In Trump’s view, norms have changed. We have discovered a new way to defile the uniform. Today, we allow murderers to wear it while being lauded as heroes.

— Robert Sneitzer, Spirit Lake