By Lieutenant General Donald M. Campbell, U.S Army (retired)
Lieutenant General F. Ben Hodges, U.S. Army (retired)
Ambassador Robert A. Mandell (retired)
Surely Americans must wonder why more than 750 former high-ranking military and national security leaders have come out publicly supporting the election of former vice president Joe Biden. It is unprecedented, especially from a group known to avoid the political spotlight. There is a loss of confidence and we now have significant concern for what could happen to our country.
President Donald Trump is unfit to serve as our President and Commander-in-Chief. He is a threat to our Constitution, and he lacks the character, integrity, and leadership skills necessary to lead our country and the women and men of our Armed Forces and Diplomatic Corps. His every action seems to be aimed at bolstering himself, taking responsibility for nothing and listening to almost no one.
He has shaken the foundation of our republic, challenging some of the key elements of the Constitution: refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the Election, showing disdain for the Supreme Court by referring to some Justices as “Obama Judges” and “my Judges”, and referring to all media as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” instead of defending the Constitutional basis and importance of a free media. He clearly does not understand or feel obligated to follow the oath that he and we took to “support and defend the Constitution.”
The three of us, two retired Army Lieutenant Generals and a retired United States Ambassador, with more than 85 years of service to our nation, have grave concerns about the direction of our country, the divisiveness being encouraged and what the next four years will bring. We have seen the extent of President Trump’s willingness to bend the rules with Ukraine, ignore science regarding the coronavirus, and politicize the military and intelligence services for his own political goals and re-election.
The President referred to members of the U.S. military who gave “their last full measure of devotion” as “losers and suckers”, according to several sources. With his reference to “my generals”, President Trump demonstrates that he does not actually understand the Constitutional role of America’s military and how much we value our oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. We were not “his Generals.” We served our fellow citizens in the Army of the United States.
Donald Trump has threatened, bullied, and disparaged our allies to the point they do not trust his word or that of the United States. President Trump has cozied up to dictators around the world, sending a message to our allies that “America First” means that our traditional allies have to go it alone while authoritarian countries get a free pass to violate international norms and human rights.
Donald Trump has weakened the cohesion of NATO by openly discussing American departure from the Alliance. What a gift to the Kremlin! In Helsinki, he said that he trusted the word of Vladimir Putin more than that of his own intelligence services. He has never condemned the leadership in Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a United States green card holder and Washington Post contributor.
On November 3rd, for those reasons and many others, we will be voting for Joe Biden. Some of us have known and others followed Vice President Biden and during his and our years of service to America. He is a kind, compassionate, intelligent, decent man who will help restore the soul of our country. He understands the military and how to keep the United States safe. He also knows how it can be effectively deployed as a deterrent against aggression around the world. Mr. Biden respects the military and diplomatic corps and like so many who have served, he shares our values.
Retired Lieutenant General Donald M. Campbell is the former Commanding General of Ft. Hood Texas (2011–2012) and the former Commanding General of US Army Europe (2012–2014). Retired Lieutenant General F. Ben Hodges is former Commanding General of NATO Allied Land Command (2012–2014) and former Commanding General of US Army Europe (2014–2017). Robert A. Mandell is a former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg (2011–2015).