Without judging the merits of individual cases, these pardons and signals of support to Americans accused of murder and war crimes are exactly what alarmed many people about Trump’s candidacy. There is no evidence that Trump has made a careful study of the facts and circumstances. His brutal disregard for American values and the traditions of the U.S. military are painfully evident.
War does not excuse everything. Yes, atrocities are committed in all conflicts, but one way we judge nations and cultures is by how they respond to those crimes. Israel, Great Britain, and other civilized nations prosecute their war criminals. So do we. Many countries don’t. The Palestinian Authority names public squares after those who target and kill civilians. The PA claims that Israel does worse, which is false, but even if true, it wouldn’t justify it. And it certainly isn’t the model for us.
It makes you wonder what President Trump would say about My Lai. After all, the Vietcong committed worse atrocities. Would he have pardoned Lt. William Calley?
Trump may think that he’s upholding the honor of America’s military, but he’s doing exactly the opposite. He’s tarnishing it by insisting that upholding strict standards of conduct—which the overwhelming majority of our uniformed military do—makes them chumps. It doesn’t. It makes them the greatest professionals in the world, of whom we are justly proud.