Although Trump enjoys signing executive orders as a photo opportunity to promote himself, the order he signed on Friday past was not promoted as one of them. That particular order, amending a George W. Bush executive order issued shortly after the terror attacks on 9/11, is a horrible portent that as predicted by many pundits, Trump intends on involving America in some new wars.
Reauthorizing Bush’s executive order 13223 would be a cause for concern in light of no “current national security threats” or “national emergencies,” but Trump “amended” Bush’s original order and literally gave himself the power to “recall any American who has ever served in the military.” As a few Veterans noted, it is a “back door draft” in preparation for more wars, big wars.
The full text of Bush’s original executive order can be read here. Bush suspended “certain laws relating to promotion, involuntary retirement, and separation of commissioned officers.” But at least Bush’s action was predicated on the clear and present danger to Americans from terror groups; Bush claimed they were a national emergency and monumental threat to national security. It was really to prepare America for his next “big wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Trump’s “amended” version, he unilaterally authorizes the Secretary of Defense and the heads of all branches of the military to call up service members who still have time left on their “enlistment contracts” which is no different from Bush’s order. However, Trump also “invoked” U.S. Code Title 10 §§ 688 and 690 that gave him authority to suspend those “laws” regarding any retired members of the military so he can order them to report for muster and be ready to go to war.
Every service member is required to be “available for service” after their “active duty” time is over; it is called “Individual Ready Reserves” or IRR. This author’s son was called up after serving in Iraq and being mustered out of the Army. For example, if a soldier enlisted for 4 years, they are still “under contract” for an additional 4 years after leaving the military. Add to that horror, the military can call up an inactive soldier at the end of that 4 year inactive period and then use a mechanism called “stop loss” to keep a service member in the field for as long as the military sees fit. Many Iraq Veterans were called up under IRR and then kept “in country” for 18 months at a stretch.
As noted here a couple of days ago, there have been plenty of rumors that Trump was planning ‘something” big happening in October or November with respect to a war Iran. And after Trump’s absurd, unwarranted, and unilateral action decertifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement with the P5+1 nations, it appears that coupled with threats against North Korea, there are at least of couple of big wars in America’s very near future. Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon spent some time early in Trump’s tenure predicting new Middle East and South China Sea wars sooner rather than never. This intent to make wars was in the planning before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration.
Many outlets are reporting that Trump’s executive order is to fill a need for experienced pilots in the Air Force, but they apparently didn’t read the entirety of Trump’s order to see he extended the “back door draft” to apply to all branches of the military. None of this is unexpected, at least not to any sane American watching Trump’s belligerent rhetoric looking for a reason to take America to new wars. If no-one believed the punditry warning there were wars in the near future, they should have at least taken note that Trump was giddy in predicting there was a “storm” coming just a couple of weeks ago.
In early October at the White House prior to a dinner event with military leaders, Trump told reporters the event was:
“The calm before the storm. The calm before the storm. We have the world’s great military people in this room, I will tell you that.”
No small number of people are now suggesting that instituting a “back door draft” is in preparation for “the storm” Trump casually mentioned to reporters. When reporters pressed Trump for details asking if “the storm” is “from Iran? From ISIS? Or what,” he answered “You’ll find out.”
Trump’s signing, and amending, Bush’s executive order extended the “state of emergency” America faced in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, even though there is no hint that America is in a state of emergency, is a very bad sign. If Trump is giving himself the authority to “recall into service any retired member of the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or Regular Marine Corp” it is fairly certain he intends on forcing America into a state of emergency to wage more wars.
This particular order can, and should, be interpreted as Trump planning to go to war and guaranteeing that no military personnel who have fulfilled their commitment, or intend on retiring, can leave the service. This order is unlike Bush’s that only forced an “extension” on service members already on active duty when America was attacked on 9/11. Trump has given himself the authority to recall to active duty any American who has ever served in the military, not just retired Air Force pilots as too many outlets have reported.
Photo illustration: Ivylise Simones