TEL AVIV — The New York Times and other news media outlets find it newsworthy that a top U.S. military commander, when asked a far-fetched hypothetical question about a nuclear strike on China, replied that he would comply with an order on the matter if it came from President Donald Trump.
“What if Trump Ordered a Nuclear Strike on China? I’d Comply, Says Admiral,” was the title of a highly-cited New York Times article.
The newspaper was reporting on a comment made by Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, who was asked at a security conference in Australia on Thursday whether he would hypothetically comply with an order from Trump to carry out a nuclear strike on China.
“The answer would be yes,” Swift replied to the generalized hypothetical.
Swift explained the chain of command in the U.S. military: “Every member of the U.S. military has sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as the commander in chief appointed over us.”
Swift further asserted that, “Any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus, and an allegiance, to civilian control, then we really have significant problems.”
He added that the proper chain of command serves as the “core to the American democracy,” according to a recording obtained by Reuters.
Capt. Charlie Brown, explained that the topic of using nuclear weapons on China was “ridiculous,” and that Swift was simply responding to an “outrageous hypothetical” question posed to him.
“Frankly, the premise of the question was ridiculous,” Brown said. “It was posed as an outrageous hypothetical, but the admiral simply took it as an opportunity to say the fact is that we have civilian control of the military and we abide by that principle.”
Reuters reported on the comments in a story titled, “Hypothetically speaking, U.S. Admiral says ready for nuclear strike on China if Trump so ordered.”
“U.S. Pacific Fleet commander: I’d launch nuclear strike against China if Trump ordered it,” was the title of a USA Today piece.
“US admiral ready for nuclear attack on China if ordered by Donald Trump,” reads a Sky News online headline.
Newsweek ran a story titled, “‘If Trump Asked, We’d Nuke China Next Week,’ Says U.S. Navy Fleet Commander.”
The news media coverage of a top military commander saying he would obey a military order from Trump comes after former CIA Director John Brennan suggested at a conference two weeks ago that top Trump officials should refuse to carry out an order if the president decided to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“I think it’s the obligation of some executive branch officials to refuse to carry that out,” Brennan said at the Aspen Institute’s Security Forum.
At the same conference, Evelyn Farkas, a former top Obama administration Defense Department official, advocated for the intelligence community to consider compromising sources and methods when it comes to “saving American democracy,” as Breitbart News was first to report.
“And I know that we have to preserve our sources and methods,” Farkas said, speaking about the U.S. intelligence community. “But at some point you know, sometimes maybe you have to actually compromise some kind of source or method if it comes down to saving American democracy.”
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
This article was written with research by Joshua Klein.