The last thing members of the military want to do is stand against Americans as they exercise their right to protest, retired four-star Admiral William McRaven said Friday, joining the ranks of other top military leaders to speak out against President Donald Trump's threat earlier this week to use U.S. military force to defend cities against violent protesters.
"Trust me, every man and woman in uniform recognizes that we are all Americans, and the last thing we want to do as military men and women is to stand in the way of a peaceful protest," McRaven, the ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about Trump's threat to call out the military during the nationwide George Floyd protests.
McRaven said he's pleased to see former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen, and Trump's former Chief of Staff John Kelly speaking out, as "we raise our right hand and swear an oath to the Constitution of the United States. It is not to the president of the United States."
Trump on Wednesday told Newsmax TV's Sean Spicer that he didn't think that using active military will be necessary against protesters, and that the National Guard could handle controlling the violence that has occurred during the protests.
McRaven also questioned the moral and ethical decisions concerning force against protesters, insisting that it was not "morally right to use force, either military or law enforcement, to "clear peaceful American citizens for the president of the United States to do a photo op" at St. John's Episcopal Church earlier this week.
The retired general also said Friday that Americans must look to young people for the nation's future, particularly as the Floyd protesters have included people of all races.
"They will be this century's greatest generation," said McRaven. "As troubling and as trying as these times are, I'm confident we'll get through it because the young men and women today understand, again, what their parents and grandparents have gone through. They understand that they now own the mantle of this country. I think they're going to do a great job taking us forward."
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