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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Last week, Republicans used the first day of their convention in Cleveland to address national security concerns, deploying military veterans like “Lone Survivor” SEAL Marcus Luttrell and former DIA chief, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn to attack Hillary Clinton for her inaction in the face of the force protection disaster in Benghazi, Libya, and for her reckless handling of classified email while she was Secretary of State.
Several veteran advocates who had also attended the RNC in Cleveland wondered aloud, after a few days of almost nothing on the subject of the issues facing the military, whether the DNC was going to counter the Republican accusations and what they’d presented on behalf of the military and veteran community the week before. Yesterday they got their answer as the Democrats brought the party’s own platoon of veterans to put the verbal focus directly on Donald J. Trump’s center of mass.
Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, a Navy veteran who has toured Iraq and Afghanistan four times, set the tone in the afternoon when he kicked off the veterans and military lawyers’ session. military families with very specific criticisms of Trump.
“The Republican presidential candidate praises Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein,” Moulton said. “More specifically, about Saddam Hussein, he praised him for killing terrorists. Let us just remember who Saddam Hussein called “terrorists”. There are American troops like me. He killed hundreds of Americans. And there were tens of thousands of innocent Shia civilians in his own country that he slaughtered in the streets. It’s pretty unfathomable that we have a candidate from a big party saying things like that during the election campaign. ”
Moulton, who just returned from a Congressional trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, went on to accuse Trump of having a detrimental effect on morale among frontline troops.
“I would never claim to speak for all the troops, but there was remarkable consensus around these table discussions that Donald Trump is a threat to our country,” Moulton said. “And when you hear that from guys literally putting their lives on the line as we sit here today, it makes you stop and think.
“If there is one group of people Americans will listen to, it is all of you who have risked your lives for our country. It is all of us who have the credibility to say, “I know a little about our national security because I was part of it.” ”
Moulton’s remarks were followed by an equally sharp attack on Trump from Illinois MP Tammy Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost both legs after her helicopter was hit by enemy fire in Iraq.
“We are talking about a man on the other side who said this morning that he wanted to renegotiate the Geneva Convention,” Duckworth said. “Well let me tell you what: When you sit in a downed plane outside the wire after being shot down and bleed to death, you get a whole different perspective on the Geneva Convention. ”
“[Donald Trump] categorically wants to send more young women and men into combat, ”said Will Fischer, AFL-CIO veterans representative, who followed Duckworth on stage. “His kids, like Donnie Jr., aren’t going to be putting on body armor anytime soon.”
At the conclusion of the Veterans and Military Families attorneys session, We Are The Mighty had an exclusive hearing with over a dozen general and flag officers who were in attendance this week to show their support for Hillary Clinton.
“One of the most important things is to understand the value of partnerships, coalitions and alliances so that the United States can carry out its missions,” said Retired Rear Admiral Kevin Green. “Candidates for Commander-in-Chief need to understand that this is how we avoid unnecessary wars, this is how we leverage our allies and friends to do the kinds of things we need to do to ensure the security of the United States. ”
Green presented Trump’s trade approach to foreign policy as a liability, saying, “If you view relations with other nations as transactional, what do I get if I give you this?” – it undermines our national security.
“Reality TV has nothing to do with [national defense] reality, ”added Rear Admiral Harold Robinson, a retired Navy chaplain. “He can tell three lies in the course of a day and then deny them. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are to be seen in the eye and speak the truth of God when we ask them to go out there and kill or be killed.
“The commander-in-chief has no checks and balances,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Maggie Woodward. “He makes a decision on the spot and we carry it out. That’s why it’s so terrifying to have a guy we all think isn’t qualified or temperamentally suited for the job.
“One of the things I found out, not only leading the troops in combat but also recruiting for the Marine Corps, is what we need to tell America so that their sons and girls are in the military, ”said the retiree. Lieutenant-General Walter Gaskin. “They expected us to be professional, to lead and know the world we send their children to. We have to do it again so that the average person understands what is going to happen if the person who puts them there alienates our allies and the Muslim inhabitants in the areas that we are going to fight in.
But the last reflection of the day on questions of military preparation and national security was reserved for Leon Panetta, former head of the CIA and the Ministry of Defense.
“Donald Trump says he gained his foreign policy experience watching television and directing the Miss Universe pageant,” Panetta said from the main stage at Wells Fargo Center during his prime-time appearance just before President Obama’s speech that closed the program. “If only it was funny, but it’s deadly serious.”
The Trump campaign’s response to the one-day shootout was stifled by Trump’s standards. The usually prolific candidate remained inactive on Twitter until late in the day when he tweeted something about how the death toll by police officers had risen by 78% and the country was not already feeling well , contrary to a statement made by Obama during his remarks.