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article imageOp-Ed: Trump agrees US may not need active troops to control protests

By Ken Hanly     Jun 4, 2020 in Politics
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper opposed President Donald Trump's idea of invoking the Insurrection Act so as to deploy active-duty US troops in US cities to quell protests against the murder of George Floyd by a police officer.
Esper ordered troops away from Washington but then reversed himself
Esper ordered 200 active-duty troops from the 82nd Airborne immediate response force, which had been brought to the national capital to deal with unrest if needed, to return to their base after two days of relatively peaceful demonstrations. However, after just a couple of hours he reversed his decision after a meeting at the White House and after internal Pentagon discussions.
No doubt the Trump administration wanted to make sure that Esper did not by direct action contradict the president's position.
Esper had said on Wednesday: "The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations right now.I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act."
Even many Republican lawmakers agree with Esper
While a few hawkish senators do support Trump's position, many Congress members both in the House and Senate agree with Esper that active armed forces should be used to control protests only as a last resort. Several retired military officials criticized Trump's position as reported by the New York Times.
In spite of Esper's critical remarks White House officials have said that there are no plans to fire Esper at present.
Trump softens his own position
Trump on Wednesday did not immediately counter his critics' objections but moved to modify his own stance, saying to White House Secretary Sean Spicer: "It depends. I don’t think we’ll have to. We have very strong powers to do it. The National Guard is customary, and we have a very powerful National Guard...As far as going beyond that? Sure, if it was necessary. We have antifa. We have anarchists. We have terrorists, looters. We have a lot of bad people in those groups."
For once, Trump may have compromised on an issue rather than exacerbating disagreements by adding rhetorical fuel to the fire.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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