America needs a lot of things right now. It desperately needs leaders who can unify, not divide, its citizenry. It needs Congress to pass some form of pandemic relief bill, and it needed it yesterday. It needs a reprieve from the unrelenting toll taken on its soul by the coronavirus, a broken public health system, dysfunctional policing and entrenched inequality. Contrary, however, to the views espoused by some national security elites this week, what America does not need is for its military to solve the problem of President Donald Trump.
It is hard to know what exactly was in the hearts and minds of the editors at Defense One when they decided to publish an open letter Wednesday written by two retired Army officers calling on Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to forcibly remove Trump from the White House if he loses reelection in November and refuses to leave office before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2021. John Nagl and Paul Yingling, the two Iraq war veterans who wrote the letter, are smart guys who have served their country honorably in uniform and out for decades. More recently, Nagl, Yingling and Mike Jason, another retired Army officer, wrote a smart piece, also in Defense One, on the current debate within the Pentagon about renaming bases named after Confederate generals.
But whatever the motivations at Defense One in publishing another provocative dig at Trump by these two veterans, it was just plain irresponsible. With all due respect to Nagl and Yingling’s many years of service, countering a potential coup d’état with another coup d’état isn’t just a bad idea. At a time when America is so on edge, it is also extremely dangerous.