President Trump looks to be set on the idea of pardoning war criminals as a perverse sort of Memorial Day gift.
He recently issued a pardon for a soldier convicted of the unlawful execution of a suspected al Qaeda fighter in Iraq, and he now seems to be gearing up for a pre-emptive pardon of former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was turned in by his fellow SEALs, who accused him of wantonly and indiscriminately murdering unarmed civilians. President Trump has already ordered Gallagher’s pre-trial conditions to be improved “in honor of his past service,” so that gives you an idea of his attitude toward the case.
Does all this talk about pardons constitute a considered judgment on Trump’s part that summary executions and terrorizing civilians are acceptable policies, or that the actions of these specific defendants were justified? I doubt it. It looks more likely that these are just the sort of people he feels he is expected to defend, the type whose side he is expected to take, without the need to look too closely at the details.
President Trump’s fascination with and awe of the military–despite or perhaps because of the fact that he himself avoided service–is well-documented. Remember all the generals he used to have in his administration? He likes people he sees as “tough” and wants to be accepted by them. So you can see how this would be his way of sending the message that he supports the troops.
This also provides us with a little perspective on Trump’s weakness for the “very fine people” of the racist “alt-right.”
Read the rest at The Bulwark.