Air Force General John Hyten, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, made headlines recently for comments he made in Canada. At the Halifax International Security Forum, General Hyten indicated he would not follow an order for a nuclear strike he felt was illegal. Hyten is in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal and would be the one to advise the president of his options when it comes to their use. Hyten also noted that he receives training every year when it comes to the laws of armed conflict. These comments come on the heels of senators raising concerns about procedure for the use of nuclear weapons, earlier this week, during hearings on Capitol Hill. There are those out there that feel the general’s comments were highly inappropriate to make publicly. With that being the case, should the general be punished for his remarks?
Those who feel the general should not be disciplined think he did nothing wrong. They feel the general was merely explaining how the process of deciding a nuclear strike worked. They argue that he did not say he would specifically refuse any order President Trump gave. Rather, he was giving a hypothetical situation and how he would respond. Plus, if the president ordered him to do something illegal, he would be criminally liable, and he was making that clear as well. They feel there should be no punishment for explaining how things work.
People who feel he should be punished for his remarks believe he was politicizing his position. They feel that, by making those comments, he was calling into question the legality of President Trump and his presidency. Plus, they argue that, if the president gives you a direct order, you are to follow it, not decide if you think it is legal or not. Finally, they feel his comments weakened the country and he must face the consequences.
CBS News covering General John Hyten’s remarks:
Should General John Hyten be punished for his comments? Was he merely explaining what he would do in a hypothetical situation? Or were his comments dangerous for the country?
The general should not be punished
People who think the general should not be punished say that he did nothing wrong. They feel that he was just explaining how the procedure works. They argue that he is trained on what to do when he is given an illegal order.
Yeah General John Hyten!
Commanders are not bound by law to follow potus' command if the command is illegal or unconstitutional. https://t.co/ynse83ulE3
— Shelley (@ShelleyResists) November 18, 2017
@thehill Well, at least we have one sane general in John Hyten who said he won’t obey illegal nuke order from Trump! General Mattis needs to slip the nuke codes out of Trump’s coat pocket while Trump’s busy tweeting!
— Doc CB (@cbeidson) November 18, 2017
GOOD NEWS: The top US nuclear commander, Gen. John Hyten, said today that he would resist an "illegal" nuclear strike order from President Trump. Factors to determine legality include necessity, distinction, proportionality, unnecessary suffering and more. https://t.co/alqi0G12Ju
— Rafal Hill (@rafalhill) November 18, 2017
False & misleading . A solider pvt. to general is not required to follow an unlawful order from a superior. It is clear in the Uniform Code of Military Conduct. That is what Hayden was referring to. Let not the impression be Hayden would disobey a lawful order to fire nukes https://t.co/cxSc3Gkm41
— John W. Kiefer (@jwkiefer1136) November 18, 2017
The general should be punished
Those who think he should be punished say that he was making a political statement against the president. They argue that he is not the one who decides what is legal or not, the president does. They feel it is his job to follow orders and he has shown, with his comments, that he cannot do that.
Fire him immediately @POTUS. Start with a dishonorable discharge and charge him with insubordination. We can not tolerate this kind of behavior.
— Marianne Hofer (@MarianneHofer) November 18, 2017
You must ask General Hayden for his immediate resignation or as CIC, Court martial him for Gross Insubordination
— Politics & Law (@lawcarp) November 18, 2017
As a retired service member this truly disturbs me. As a general officer there is no choice, if U are unwilling to follow the lawful orders given to you by POTUS, then U must retire immediately or face disciplinary action for not doing your duty. AF Chief of staff must intervene!
— Retired AF (@RetiredAF1) November 18, 2017
Needs to step down &how does he know that affirmatively right now, he can't know that there'd never be reason,he's politicizing his position
— Valerie (@vjoycejkl) November 18, 2017
Should General John Hyten be punished for his remarks?