Bullying or Mercy?

“Do not spread false reports.  Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.
“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.  When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.
“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.  If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.
“Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.  Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

  • Exodus 23:1-7

“Lt. Col. Vindman’s announcement that he is retiring from the Army: ‘Unfortunately this is Donald Trump’s America, and this is what happens to people who tell the truth.’”

  • Chris Hayes, MSNBC

In the title of this article, largely a video clip, the words were listed “Bullying, intimidation, and retaliation.”

Let me explain a little to those who are not or have never been a commissioned military officer.  This is my understanding of the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) as it was taught to me fifty years ago, but I doubt if this has changed.

If a commissioned military officer says derogatory things against his Commander and Chief, the President of the USA, he should be court martialed and removed from service as a minimum.  To act in espionage against his Commander and Chief should, in my opinion, carry the penalty for treason with the death penalty on the table for consideration.  Maybe the death penalty can be stricken due to the “enemy power” being the Democrats in Congress instead of a foreign government.  In his testimony and the comments made by others about him during his giving ‘evidence,’ it was reported that he repeatedly brought claims of what he thought was impropriety to his Democrat handlers, undermining and questioning everything done in the White House – acting as a spy.  At a minimum, creating a toxic work environment.

In other news, LTC Vindman had been placed on the list for promotion to Colonel.  If he had not retired, he could be placed in charge of thousands of human lives.  When you are placed on a list for promotion, you wait until the position is open or you serve a set amount of time in grade and then you are promoted.  No further evaluation is needed at that point.  Your signature block lists your present rank followed by a “(P),” meaning that you should be honored as having already achieved that rank.  I consider his being on the promotion list as an act of mercy, not bullying, intimidation, or retaliation.

The bullying, intimidation and retaliation may have happened on a personal level.  It would be hard to resent the spy, the mole, the “traitor” in their midst.  If I worked with the man, knowing that he spied on my Commander and said bad things about him, I could never trust the man.  I would not belittle him in public or undermine his authority.  He still wore the uniform.  I could forgive, but in the heat of battle, would he stand firm with orders given from his Commander that he spied against or would he hand over information to the enemy?  How could you ever trust someone like that?

Does that illustrate why that rule is among the many in the UCMJ?

LTC Vindman still does not get it.  He should be grateful that he is leaving with a pension that will keep him well funded for the rest of his life considering his rank and time in grade.  Yet, he is petulant and bitter, because he was offered mercy instead of imprisonment.  I know that Congress granted all who gave testimony amnesty, but does that carry over into the military court?  Do they have that authority?  Does amnesty matter, based on the lack of confidence it leads to in a higher ranking officer and what damage that could cause within a fighting unit?

When I was an Army officer, I served almost perfectly overlapping the four years of the Jimmy Carter presidency.  My commander(s) gave a variety of admonishments when our cost of living allowance (COLA) was cut or our annual pay increase was much less than previous years, much less than the raging inflation of those days, or some other announcement was made from the White House that made our lives harder as military in Europe.  The failed rescue attempt to rescue the Iranian embassy employees, held captive in Iran, caused me to cut my vacation short and draw a weapon, ready for war.  The admonishments from the commander(s) were clear.  “Say one word against the president, even with your wife over breakfast, and court martial proceedings will be started against you.”  The commander saying that implied that he thought the president was not serving in our best interest, but he said it in terms of following orders – not bickering or creating distrust.  But the commander did not hesitate to let us know when President Carter was about to make a speech.  The Germans did not like President Carter.  Might I say “hate?”  Each time he gave a speech, especially when he mentioned the economy, the value of the US dollar went down the next day in Germany.  Thus, out of self-preservation since COLA was almost non-existent, the word got out and we formed a long line at the finance window exchanging what US cash we could find in the “miscellaneous drawer” to exchange it for Deutsche Marks.  Either that or the price of everything on the “economy” (meaning at a German store) just went up.

So, that is basically the facts and my experience, but as a Christian, how should we react?  Someone continues to be belligerent after given pardon.  Is that any concern to us?  How would we feel in his shoes?  And how would we feel working around him?  Would we not want mercy, if we acted outside the law based on our convictions?  If we worked with him, would we not want to build a foundation of trust with him, one small brick at a time, until he proved to be loyal and trustworthy?

There is too much division already.  As Christians, we must show mercy.  We must forgive.  We must love our enemies, even those who disagree with us politically or even theologically.  A lot of what Jesus said regarding forgiveness and mercy and loving one’s enemies can be found in the Scripture above.  The Pharisees, as do most Christians today, read the “lines,” the doing statements of the Bible.  Jesus read between the lines at those conceptual statements in the Old Testament, those hidden gems that discuss our intentions, all pointing to a loving God who wants His best for us.  We should seek that Truth ourselves.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

3 Comments

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  1. I concur. My husband was in the Navy — and I am somewhat familiar with the USMJ. I really appreciated what you wrote. It helped put some things in perspective for me. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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