(July 1)President Trump, apparently trying to shore up his support in the old Confederacy, is putting the American military at risk by threatening to veto a bipartisan defense authorization bill in a dispute about the names of military bases.

It was a Senate committee controlled by Trump’s own Republican Party that approved an amendment to set up a system to rename bases currently named after Confederate generals. Trump is badly misguided about renaming, but even if he weren’t wrong on the names, he would be wrong to veto a crucial bill just because of the names.

I’ve written before about how senseless it is to have U.S. military bases named after military leaders who fought against the United States. Even apart from the immorality of slavery, which clearly was the primary casus belli for the Confederacy, the sheer illogic of the base names is astonishing.

Even worse, some of the Confederates whose names adorn the bases weren’t even good military leaders. Braxton Bragg was generally considered one of the worst (and perhaps the worst) of the generals in the entire Civil War. He lost battle after battle and was generally despised by his own men.

Braxton Bragg

John Bell Hood was a courageous leader, but he was promoted at the wrong time into circumstances where his predilections proved disastrous on the battlefield. George Pickett graduated last from his class at West Point and failed miserably as a general at both Gettysburg and Five Forks.

So, why would the U.S. military want bases named after ineffective generals?

Moreover, a growing consensus supports renaming the bases. The genuinely bipartisan move in Congress would not rename the bases willy-nilly, but instead take thoughtful, considerate steps to consider it after gaining input from the local communities affected….

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