Originally Published: Athens Messenger 

Americans are hard-working people, genuinely decent, and embrace good values. We expect high moral character from our leading statesmen and their number-one priority is to preserve the safety of our nation. The absence of these qualities in a President places America on the brink, and we are there.

Just four months after the 9/11 attacks, I deployed to Afghanistan and had the privilege to serve in the Coalition Special Operations Task Force. George Bush’s leadership resulted in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, and Norway sending their nations’ most elite units to Afghanistan (their equivalents of Delta and SEAL Team Six)…and we did some good hard work against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in 2002. Tragically, our once-loyal partners will almost certainly not follow Donald Trump to support the U.S. if our homeland is attacked again or if other national interests are threatened.

The “leader of the free world” position has been vacant for almost four years. What a pathetic surrender of leadership.

As an officer in a special operations task force during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I can say first-hand that the Kurds were the foundation of our defeat of Saddam Hussein’s forces in northern Iraq, and years later they remained among the most effective fighters against ISIS in Iraq and Syria alongside U.S. Special Forces. Trump abandoned them to Turkish attack in 2019 without consulting senior military leaders, and even my fellow Green Berets were shelled by Turkish forces.

Trump’s seemingly gleeful verbal attacks on the heads of state of our allies has taken America to a dangerous place it does not want to be. Trump has called Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “dishonest and weak.” After Trump’s repeated rants at the UK, the UK’s Secretary of Defense warned, “The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a U.S. coalition is really just not where we are going to be.” And France’s Prime Minister Macron has lamented, “Europe is now the victim of the U.S. abandoning (Ronald Reagan’s) 1987 Nuclear Treaty with Russia”.

The FBI and NSA concluded with irrefutable evidence that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. These facts were confirmed in an exhaustive investigation by Marine Corps Vietnam war hero and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. A true president would be laser-focused on warning Russia to “stay the **** out of American elections, or else”. Instead, Trump embraces this threat to America’s democracy.

Trump’s deference to Russia’s Putin confounds our diplomatic and military leaders. Russia is a second-rate totalitarian state with only three percent of global GDP. Trump has entirely surrendered the advantages America won during the Cold War by legitimizing everything Russia does. Ronald Raegan would be appalled, heart-broken and frightened.

Next, character. Americans were appalled when Trump mocked Senator John McCain for being a prisoner of war. As a Republican, I was touched that when McCain was diagnosed with cancer, it was Joe Biden who consoled and prayed with McCain’s daughter. Compare that with our Republican Party “leader.” Trump embraces lunatic conspiracy theories such as QAnon, he mocks and ruins the careers of our most respected and knowledgeable diplomats, and he has declared the mainstream media the enemy.

How can a reasonable person think these are the appropriate actions of a commander in chief?

Over the last few years, I thought I was fairly alone in my concerns about Trump among Republicans. But the accumulation of his disrespectful and embarrassing comments about our military leadership and heroes, his outright dangerous military decisions, and Operation Grant – an Ohio nonprofit dedicated to persuading conservatives to put country over party and elect Joe Biden in 2020 – have empowered me to speak out.

Trump called General James Mattis, his own Secretary of Defense, “one of the most over-rated generals in history.” General Mattis, who advised Trump to stop abandoning our allies, realized Trump is “dangerous and unfit (for the presidency),” followed his moral compass and resigned. He has since said, “(Trump) is strategically jeopardizing our place in the world.”

Trump is playing with power he does not understand and giving power that can be used aggressively against America. Trump has lit the fuse for the next war in which the U.S. will find itself dangerously alone. The next “shock and awe” campaign will be Trump’s unbridled and terrifying attack on American democracy if re-elected. It is up to all patriots to vote Trump out and Joe Biden in.

Mark Arnold of Columbus is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and a Green Beret in the U.S. Army Special Forces; he served in three combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He is also a graduate of Ohio University.