President Joe Biden recently launched a series of verbal attacks on Donald Trump supporters. For example, he characterized the MAGA movement as “semi-fascist” during a private meeting with donors in late August. He followed up by calling “MAGA Republicans” an extremist threat to America’s “foundations” during a September 1 speech. Amid this divisive rhetoric, a bipartisan group of former Department of Defense secretaries and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairmen released a civil-military warning.
On September 6, the national security website War on the Rocks published the open letter signed by eight former Defense Secretaries who worked for former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Signatories also included five former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff serving under the last two presidents and George W. Bush.
The letter asked military and civilian authorities to “review the core principles” governing their ongoing interactions. It urged the American public and the armed services to remain faithful to the “constitutional framework” that keeps American democracy in check. The letter also talked about the “significant limits on the public role” of military officials in “partisan politics.”
The warning didn’t mention Biden’s speech, but the fact he had two Marines in full dress uniforms flanking him all but screamed out for him to heed the letter’s advice. While it’s not unheard of for a president to share a stage with military members, the practice is unusual.
Biden’s behavior was so egregious that even a CNN host, Brianna Keilar, posted a tweet and an accompanying article accusing Biden of forcing the military to ignore its apolitical role. She proclaimed “it’s wrong” to use troops that way, whether Democrats or Republicans do it.