May 11, local time, a group called Flag Officers 4 America posted an open letter on its website, signed by 124 retired U.S. military officers, questioning the outcome of the 2020 election and the ability and mental state of current President Joe Biden.
The letter caused controversy in the United States, with the US political website POLITICO reporting that it sparked a “war of words” between the active-duty and veterans. Peter Feaver, a scholar at Duke University who studies military-political relations, wrote in Foreign Policy magazine on Tuesday that retired officers who signed the letter undermined their professional conduct and eroded healthy military-political relations in the United States.
The open letter challenged the election results and questioned Biden’s ability to govern
The open letter calls first and foremost the fairness of the current U.S. electoral system, saying that “constitutional republics will fail” without “fair and impartial elections that accurately reflect the will of the people.” The U.S. Capitol Hill newspaper reported Tuesday that it appears to be challenging the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
Since the November 2020 election, former U.S. President Donald Trump has insisted that the election was full of fraud and “stolen.” But there is no hard evidence to support his claim. And Mr. Trump’s claim has no shortage of fans in the United States.
The open letter also referred to the For the People Act, or H.R.1, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March, which said that if it passed the Senate, it would “undermine electoral fairness” and thus “keep the Democratic Party in power forever.”
The Www.thepaper.cn Has Previously Reported That The People’S Act IncludeS A Number Of MeasureS To Boost Turnout, And That DemocratS Pushing The Bill Want To Avoid Over-The-Top Election ThresholdS To Silence MinoritY VoiceS. But Republicans don’t seem to be “buying it”, and some swing states in the GoP-run 2020 election have even pushed for legislation to raise the threshold to deal with so-called “election fraud” in the 2020 election.
“The FBI and supreme court must act quickly when election irregularities surface, not ignore them as they did in 2020,” the letter added. But the U.S. Department of Justice said in December that it had found no evidence of voter fraud that could affect the 2020 election results, the Associated Press reported.
In addition, the letter questioned Biden’s “physical and mental health” as commander-in-chief of the three armies, and said national security issues required “rapid and accurate” decision-making. Prior to that, Mr. Trump had repeatedly publicly questioned Mr. Biden’s mental state and his ability to govern during his re-election campaign, even calling him “Sleepy Joe.”
Business Insider reported that Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s personal physician, released a report earlier this month calling Biden a “healthy, energetic 77-year-old man who can be president.”
“Unprecedented threat” or “outright partisan attack”?
The open letter was “a stone’s rousing” among active-duty and veterans, and some military experts told the US political website POLITICO that it was an outright “partisan attack.”
Jim Golby, an expert on military-political relations, called the signing of the open letter “a shameful act of using the rank and military’s reputation for such a brutal and blatant partisan attack”, while Mike Mullen, a retired admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “I think it is damaging to the military and to the country.” He added that the letter was full of “talking points from right-wing Republicans.”
POLITICO reported that it is not uncommon for retired military officers to stand up for candidates in election politics, but the heated rhetoric and “election fraud” conspiracy theories in the open letter have left many political observers feeling particularly “cross-border” and “dangerous.” Second, making such statements during non-election periods is considered rare, even unprecedented.
Military experts opposed to the open letter’s political stance fear that such an act would undermine the military’s “no politics” principle and “burn” the fire of partisanship into the military. POLITICO says the U.S. military has long stayed out of political battles to preserve the constitutional tradition of civilian control of the military. Not only are active-duty military personnel prohibited from participating in partisan political activities, but even after retirement, military personnel often keep their political views secret.
Joe Arbuckle, a Vietnam veteran and retired major general who sponsored the open letter, told POLITICO that while he was aware that “retired officers are not usually involved in political operations”, the retired officers who signed the open letter agreed that the United States was facing an “unprecedented threat” and must take a stand, warn that “silence would be a dereliction of duty”.
According to the website of The American Flag Officers, which published the open letter, the group is made up of retired military officers who are “committed to supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution” and says, “Although we have retired, we remain committed to our oath to defend our country and protect our freedom from threats within our capabilities today.”
Mike Mullen told POLITICO that only a few retired Samsung generals signed the open letter, and that none of them retired four-star generals (note: the highest rank in the U.S. military in peacetime, lower than the five-star general awarded only in wartime, the U.S. military currently has 40 active four-star general positions), “the rank is not very high.”
The Defense Department declined to comment on the letter, Business Insider and POLITICIO reported.