Mattis's statement on Trump reveals America's constitutional crisis

The service chiefs (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) know the American people’s opinion of their military could be irrevocably damaged by future confrontations between peaceful demonstrators and soldiers. They also know that people of color comprise 40 percent of their ranks. Consequently, each has issued carefully crafted messages designed not to criticize Trump directly but expressing their solidarity with American rights and values.

In his statement, Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force chief of staff, called the death of George Floyd a “national tragedy.” But this was as far as the serving chiefs can go, absent resigning in protest. To do otherwise would require them to either openly defy the commander in chief or subvert their sense of duty. Both paths are contrary to their professional military ethic and would diminish them in the eyes of those they command…

At this critical moment in our history, it is imperative that the current senior leadership of the American military speak truth to power. And if they feel they cannot do that while working for this administration, they have only one other option. It might be useful for them to remember a statement by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell nearly 30 years ago. He was asked by a Naval Academy midshipman what an officer should do if he or she is directed by political leadership to do something contrary to their oath. Powell replied succinctly, “If after those decisions are made you still find it completely unacceptable and it strikes to the heart of your moral beliefs, then I think you have to resign.”