To a degree without modern precedent, an astonishing number of retired American military leaders have stepped up in recent months to denounce Donald Trump, endorse Joe Biden, or both. The list includes four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, each of whom have publicly slammed the incumbent president ahead of his re-election bid.
But as regular readers know, one retired U.S. military leader in particular has gone further than most in warning the public about the man in the Oval Office.
Retired Adm. William McRaven, the former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, is perhaps best known to Americans as the Navy SEAL who oversaw the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In a new op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the retired admiral talks about the ballot he cast this week in Texas.
Truth be told, I am a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, small-government, strong-defense and a national-anthem-standing conservative. But, I also believe that black lives matter, that the Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship, that diversity and inclusion are essential to our national success, that education is the great equalizer, that climate change is real and that the First Amendment is the cornerstone of our democracy. Most important, I believe that America must lead in the world with courage, conviction and a sense of honor and humility.
He added, “I voted for Joe Biden.”
Taking aim specifically at the president’s repeated insistence that the United States is held in higher regard thanks to his leadership, McRaven also wrote, without ever mentioning the incumbent president’s name:
Now, the world no longer looks up to America. They have been witness to our dismissiveness, our lack of respect and our transactional approach to global issues. They have seen us tear up our treaties, leave our allies on the battlefield and cozy up to despots and dictators. They have seen our incompetence in handling the pandemic and the wildfires. They have seen us struggle with social injustice. They no longer think we can lead, because they have seen an ineptness and a disdain for civility that is beyond anything in their memory. But, without American leadership the world will indeed be transformed, just not in the way we hope.
I’ve long been fascinated by McRaven’s gradual transition from a retired military leader, content to leave political fights to others, to someone who felt compelled by Trump’s antics to enter the political debate in earnest.
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Just weeks into the Trump era, for example, the retired admiral tipped his toes in these waters, describing Trump’s condemnations of his own country’s free press possibly “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”
About a year later, after the president said he’d revoke the security clearances of some of his critics, McRaven wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post urging Trump to revoke his security clearance, too, explaining