But whatever Vindman’s reasons for retiring early, there are several implications from this rather sordid affair. Clearly, the nation has lost the services of a highly experienced officer who should be promoted. Former national security adviser John Bolton, who was Vindman’s boss in the White House, reiterated why this week. Vindman is a combat veteran who by all accounts served the nation well and had been appropriately selected for promotion along with many others by a board of senior officers.

Second, Trump’s relationships with the professional military as well as with the Pentagon civilian leadership have been further strained — despite the fact that he frequently cites his support for the military. Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both sought to distance themselves from Trump’s recent decisions, including the use of armed troops and police to clear protesters from Lafayette Square so the president could have a photo-op…

No one is arguing that the president does not have the power to promote or reject officers. This is not a legal question. It is rather a matter of judgment and support for civil-military relations in a democracy. The actions taken by the president and his administration against Vindman send a direct message to America’s officer corps: Officers who want to advance in their careers should be publicly supportive of Trump — or at the least, quiet and compliant. This is yet another dangerous and corrosive message in a presidency filled with them.