According to Yahoo, former President Donald Trump, eyeing a potential 2024 presidential run, has suggested that if he returns to office, he would not hesitate to use the military to address unrest in primarily Democratic cities and states. Trump, campaigning in Iowa, pointed to New York City and Chicago as “crime dens” and stated that he would take immediate action, asserting that he allowed them to run previously to show how poorly they handled the situation.
While Trump has not provided detailed plans on military deployment during a second term, he and his advisers have hinted at broad authority to call up military units. The Insurrection Act, established in 1792, grants the president extensive powers to deploy military forces to quell domestic unrest, and it is not subject to judicial review. The law permits the president to call on reserve or active-duty military units to respond to disturbances in states, with minimal constraints.
Joseph Nunn, a national security expert, noted that the primary limitation on the president’s use of the Insurrection Act is political, as deploying the military within the country is historically controversial. Trump’s aggressive agenda, including mass deportations and travel bans, aligns with his rhetoric of using the military against both domestic and foreign threats.
Trump’s plans have raised questions about military oaths, presidential power, and potential appointees to support such actions. The former president has hinted at bringing back figures like retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who previously suggested seizing voting machines and deploying the military to rerun elections.
While the Insurrection Act has been invoked 40 times in history, Trump’s repeated threats could create tension with military leaders. The law is one of the significant exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits using the military for law enforcement purposes.
Military leaders, including Gen. Charles Q. Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have emphasized the importance of upholding oaths and condemned the events of January 6, 2021, as “sedition and insurrection.” However, Trump’s continued support among military veterans raises questions about potential pushback from within the armed forces.
The Insurrection Act has been invoked during critical periods in history, such as the Civil Rights era and the Los Angeles riots in 1992. The law allows the president to act decisively during crises, but repeated use could strain relations with the military, which may face consequences for following such directives.
Legal and military experts emphasize that while military personnel are legally obliged to obey orders, they are not required to follow unlawful orders. However, the weight of disobeying orders, even if deemed unlawful later, can be severe, affecting careers and leading to legal consequences. The potential use of the Insurrection Act under a Trump presidency underscores the complex intersection of legal, political, and military considerations.