Lt. Col. Scheller may be a jerk, but he still said something important
Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller has turned out to be a disappointment to the conservatives who supported his willingness to say that the military brass should have suffered meaningful consequences after the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal. Unfortunately, he’s contemptuous of Trump, which means he’s contemptuous of Trump supporters. Still, it’s important to remember that his original point was and remains valid.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disgrace. It was done in an intemperate, bass-ackwards way that saw the military abandon $85 billion in high-tech equipment to Taliban fighters in the grip of a 6th-century mentality. Worse, our generals abandoned Americans and true American allies, while shipping out from Afghanistan over a hundred thousand people of mysterious origins and bona fides.
Then, after congratulating himself for an “extraordinary success,” Biden made clear that no heads would roll. General Mark Milley, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and General Kenneth McKenzie will maintain their positions and assuredly add more ribbons to the fruit salads on their chests. Four men with enormous power, no humility, poor values, and a deficit of common sense, intelligence, and decency, publicly discounted any responsibility for what happened.
The next chapter in this story was Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller’s video expressing dissatisfaction with the fact that no high-level people were paying for the disastrous withdrawal. He made the righteous point that it’s very bad for military discipline if consequences only occur when the lower ranks do wrong, while the upper ranks always get a pass.
People who know their British history keep mentioning Admiral John Byng, who was court-martialed and executed in 1757 for failing to “do his utmost” to keep a British garrison at Minorca from falling. We don’t expect executions when our generals fail but we do expect some consequences, and the troops logically do too.
Scheller tried to quit but, instead, was quickly relieved of duty, sent to a psychiatrist (a soviet thing to do) and, finally, tossed in the brig. Because he violated military rules against stepping outside of the chain of command to take criticisms public, he deserved consequences, although both the psychiatrist and the brig seemed un-American. Still, his parents went onto Fox (I saw them on Tucker’s show) to plead his case. Eddie Gallagher’s Pipe Hitter Foundation set up a fund for Scheller and conservatives were very generous.
And then Scheller turned out to be a snot-nosed, arrogant, NeverTrumper with nothing but disdain for Trump and his supporters—who also happened to be Scheller’s supporters. As part of a long, manic Facebook post, he attacked everyone, a whole bunch of people, starting with Trump, and moving on to Obama, Dubya, Clinton, Hillary, Mattis, Petraeus, Flynn, and many more.
What we saw was Scheller go full Jim Carrey in Liar Liar or Warren Beatty in Bulworth—nothing was going to stop him from telling his truth. But in doing so, while he may have landed a few punches, what he mostly did was reveal himself to be an angry man with a long “hate” list.
What he said about Trump oozed contempt, even hatred:
President Trump. I was told by everyone to kiss the ring because of your following and power. I refuse. While I respect your foreign policy positions, I hate how you divided the country. I don’t need or want your help. You do not have the ability to pull US together. You may even win the next election. But your generation’s time is running out. Tell your son to stop tweeting about me. Your whole family knows nothing about US or our sacrifices. I could never work with you. I’d rather sit in jail and be released with a dishonorable than make compromises in my beliefs.
Talk about biting the hand that was offering you support.
A lot of people feel strongly that Scheller no longer deserves their support. Indeed, for those who made that support monetary by donating to a fund that Eddie Gallagher’s Pipe Hitter organization set up for him, Gallagher did the right thing and said that people can get refunded the money they donated. (Jim Hoft, who reported on Gallagher’s officer, wrote, “For the record — I donated money to Lt. Col. Scheller. I likely won’t do it again but I won’t be asking for a refund.”)
At the end of the day, remember that, while Scheller may be a disappointment, his initial point was the correct one: It destroys a military institution if rules and consequences are only for the little people, and the generals, no matter how appalling their judgment or conduct, walk away scot-free.
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