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Mike Giese: Failing test as commander in chief

Mike Giese: Failing test as commander in chief

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Past actions are predictive of what one will do in the future. What President Donald Trump has done in his past life is determinative of his forthcoming actions as commander in chief if he is re-elected.

In 1966, 1967 and 1968, Donald Trump, a college friend John M. and I were all called for military service by our local draft boards. We each responded very differently.

John saw the Vietnam War as immoral and he would not abide by the draft.

John also believed that to evade the draft by running away (to Canada) was cowardly and that as a citizen of our democracy he had the responsibility to submit himself to the draft and refuse conscription.

He was convicted of draft evasion and was sentenced to two years in a state of Oregon federal penitentiary. John hoped other conscripts would follow his example and that the combined effect would force our government to end the war.

As a law school student, the personal cost to John was compounded in that his felony conviction prevented him from becoming a member of the bar. I believe John to be a national hero, John is not a loser or a sucker — terms that Trump has used to describe another kind of hero — Sen. John McCain . He has also called suckers those who have performed unselfishly for the common good.

As John was resisting the draft, he attempted to convince me to follow his example. I was unsure if the Vietnam War was an unjust war. Moreover, my father was a senior officer in the U.S. military, and I felt an obligation to serve.

I am not a pacifist, so the conscientious objector status was not appropriate. I was drafted into the Army during October 1967 and served with the Army’s 5th Infantry Division in Quang Tri Province along the DMZ.

My firsthand observations in the Army caused me to believe that the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was immoral. But I do not believe that I was either a loser or a sucker.

On multiple occasions Trump evaded his obligation to follow the law when he was called for his military service by claiming he had “bone spurs” in his feet.

I have another friend who had his foot reconstructed after an injury in 1963. The next year he was drafted and served more than three years, including Vietnam. Trump’s draft dodge deprived him of the experiences needed to be commander in chief.

Had Trump served in the military he would at least be aware of the U.S. Code of Military Justice, the Geneva convention, the Helsinki accord and rules of engagement, all of which he has denigrated in various ways during his term as commander in chief.

Had Trump served in combat, he would have been less likely to reverse the conviction of U.S. Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher who was found guilty of posing with the corpse of teenager he had killed with his hunting knife.

Had Trump served honorably he would appreciate that these codes and conventions advance the military and political interest of the U.S. They keep America great.

We are unable to separate the duties of commander in chief from the office of president. Trump’s past and his performance as commander in chief for the last four years make him unfit for re-élection.

To keep Trump as our commander in chief would make us all losers and suckers.

Mike Giese is former mayor of Onalaska and La Crosse County Board supervisor.

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