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Tue May 21, 2019, 12:36 PM

Trump's war-crime pardons could be his most Nixonian moment yet

Source: Washington Post

Trump’s war-crime pardons could be his most Nixonian moment yet

By Charles Lane
Opinion writer
May 20 at 6:49 PM

If  indeed President Trump pardons one or more U.S. military men accused or convicted of war crimes in Afghanistan or Iraq, it could be his most Nixonian moment yet.

On March 29, 1971, a U.S. Army court-martial at Fort Benning, Ga., convicted Lt. William Calley of 22 murders for his part in the massacre of as many as 500 men, women and children by a company of U.S. soldiers at My Lai, Vietnam. The tribunal sentenced him to life in prison.

President Richard M. Nixon did not see this as an opportunity to drive home the point that U.S. soldiers must follow the laws of war and that deviations are not only morally wrong but counterproductive militarily.

Rather, Nixon decided to exploit a groundswell of sympathy for Calley. In 1971, millions of Americans vilified Calley as typical of a corrupt and violent policy; yet millions more saw him as a dedicated soldier being scapegoated for the failed policies of others.

-snip-

Within days of Calley’s conviction, Nixon exercised his authority to have him removed from prison and placed in comfortable house arrest pending an appeal, the first step in a process that would ultimately see Calley, the only American convicted for the atrocities at My Lai, set free after three years.

-snip-

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-war-crime-pardons-could-be-his-most-nixonian-moment-yet/2019/05/20/c212d954-7b19-11e9-8bb7-0fc796cf2ec0_story.html

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue May 21, 2019, 12:45 PM

1. On this one point I actually agree with

Any president who pardons our military personnel. Combat at the war front is as brutal as it gets. These brave American souls who risk their lives to volunteer in military don't have the luxury to figure out what may be illegal in the instantaneous situations where you can be killed at any moment. It is easy to sit back in the safety of USA and make judgements. Bless all those who volunteer to join our military.

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Response to at140 (Reply #1)

Tue May 21, 2019, 12:47 PM

2. You must be too young to remember My Lai.

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Response to at140 (Reply #1)

Tue May 21, 2019, 01:02 PM

3. You're ok with premeditated mass murder of civilians?

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #3)

Tue May 21, 2019, 01:06 PM

4. I am ok only in combat situations

When you are being fired on by snipers, etc. Keep in mind enemy does not always wear uniforms. Viet Cong never had a military uniform. No, I am never ok with any mass murders of civilians.

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Response to at140 (Reply #4)

Tue May 21, 2019, 01:15 PM

5. So it's ok to rape and kill civilians in a combat zone?

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #5)

Wed May 22, 2019, 12:55 AM

9. I already said what I think

Did you not understand?

Of course it is not right to kill mass of civilians.
We did it by bombing German cities and nuking civilians in Hiroshima. Far more than in Iraq or Syria.

Would you have imprisoned those pilots and impeached the presidents who ordered mass murder of civilians during the war?

Like I said war is not a game run by lawyers. It is brutal and our brave young military personnel die and get maimed by the thousands. Unless one has been in those shoes, one should not play Monday morning quarterback.

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Response to at140 (Reply #1)

Tue May 21, 2019, 01:25 PM

6. this is a question to be brought out at trial

sometimes there is indeed for of war, and also there are certainly less than ideal conditions for collecting evidence, both incriminating and exonerating. but these are facts to be determined at trial, because they may or may not be present in any case in particular.

if, during battle, i turn to jones and say "f*ck you jones, i heard what you said about my girlfriend" and shoot him point blank in front of 20 witnesses, then this is a pretty clear case, even if it took place during battle.

generally, regarding pardons, governors and presidents should be very reluctant to overturn decisions made by the criminal justice system, though it's an important fail-safe if our system gets it wrong.

being in the military doesn't and shouldn't entitle anyone to special privilege or treatment when it comes to getting pardons. if the system got it wrong, a pardon may be appropriate; if the system got it right, a pardon is very likely not appropriate, regardless.

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Response to at140 (Reply #1)

Tue May 21, 2019, 02:42 PM

8. Calley wasn't scapegoated for the actions of others.

He was a full participant in the murder of innocent civilians. Unarmed old men, women and children do not precipitate a deranged, combat-fatigue-related massacre. The will to commit atrocities has to be there to begin with.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Tue May 21, 2019, 02:20 PM

7. "Nixonian moment?" But one of many.

Using race as a wedge issue, lying to the public as a policy, stonewalling Congressional investigations, conspiring with the nation's enemies to defeat the Democratic Party, etc

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Response to Nitram (Reply #7)

Wed May 22, 2019, 11:58 PM

11. Yep, but Nixon did conspire with Vietnam to derail the peace talks to hurt Humphrey's chances.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/06/nixon-vietnam-candidate-conspired-with-foreign-power-win-election-215461

And there's Iran -Contra, where Reagan secretly sold arms to Iran, (in violation of an embargo) in order to give money to right wing guerrillas in Nicaragua.

Republicans have always been traitorous cheaters.

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Wed May 22, 2019, 11:44 PM

10. Trump makes Nixon look staid. Nixon never put babies in cages. nt

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2019, 11:52 AM

12. With all his Hitlerian moments, why would we even talk about 'Nixonian'?

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