The president of the United States wields enormous constitutional power. His power as commander in chief of the armed forces is particularly sweeping. His power to pardon is nearly absolute. And a rogue president is almost unconstrained, except by congressional removal from office or politically through the power of the electorate.
A pardon by President Trump for military personnel who have been convicted of battlefield crimes or are pending general court-martial would be enormously damaging to the values of the U.S. armed forces. He should not take this action.
I am the first to admit that small-unit, direct combat is brutalizing and raw. I’ve had four combat tours and been wounded three times. Exhausted, filthy and scared, young troops struggle to survive and keep their buddies alive. You are trying to destroy enemy fighters with rifles and hand grenades and entrenching tools at close range. You are not trying to make an arrest; your purpose is to kill these people.