Monday, June 15, 2020

The New Yorker

Trump’s Vacuous West Point Address and the Revolt Against It

By Robin Wright
President Trump has enraged the U.S. military—from top to bottom. On June 11th, an angry and mournful letter signed by hundreds of graduates of West Point—spanning from the Class of 1948 to the Class of 2019—was posted on Medium. It addressed the Class of 2020. It cited the current “tumultuous time” in America: more than a hundred thousand deaths from a new disease with no known cure, forty million newly unemployed people, and a nation “hurting from racial, social and human injustice” after the murder of George Floyd. “Desperation, fear, anxiety, anger and helplessness are the daily existence for too many Americans,” the signatories wrote. They warned bluntly of leaders who “betray public faith through deceitful rhetoric, quibbling, or the appearance of unethical behavior.” They reminded students of the cadet honor code, which dictates not to “lie, cheat, or steal,” and not to tolerate those who do. Without naming names, they cited their fellow-graduates who are now in senior government positions and failing to uphold their oath of office. (The Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, and the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, both graduated in the West Point Class of 1986.) They wrote that their appeal “is not about party; it is about principle.” And, after welcoming the newest class to the Army tradition of the “Long Gray Line,” they concluded, “Our lifetime commitment is to the enduring responsibility expressed in the Cadet Prayer: ‘to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won.’ ” Read on...