WASHINGTON—Providing a lengthy, comprehensive explanation of the factors influencing his decision to declare a national emergency that would send military funding and personnel to the nation’s southern border, President Donald Trump offered a clear, historical precedent Friday for deploying the U.S. military with no provocation. “What the critics who have questioned the validity of my actions seem to be ignoring is that there are abundant examples of instances in the history of this country wherein a president invoked his executive powers to station troops, not to defend ourselves against an aggressor, but simply to further our nation’s economic and political interests,” said Trump at press conference, frequently referencing a chart he had created tracking U.S. military deployments through history both within the country and abroad, specifically citing President Andrew Jackson overriding the Indian Removal Act and the Supreme Court ruling in Worcester v. Georgia in the forced expulsion by the military of the Cherokee from their lands, the secret use of military advisors and support by Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, and the recent precedent of extraneous invasions of other countries without the approval of Congress in violation of the War Powers Resolution by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. “Listen, folks, I would invite you to consult the history books, where you will see that posting troops at the border in the defense of an exaggerated claim that such security is needed to protect Americans is broadly in line with similar invasions, troop deployments, and other military activities throughout American history perpetuated to annex land, attack countries with governments not subservient to our country, or to further the interests of our client states. What I’m doing is entirely in keeping with the way that the U.S. government usually acts—time and time again, our leaders have ignored the basic conditions that would prompt acceptable military action, so why should this national emergency be treated differently? To this end, I would quote the words of Noam Chomsky, who said that ‘If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.’ I would additionally invite my critics to consult scholarly texts on William McKinley’s role in the annexation of the Philippines, the rationale used by Lyndon Johnson for ramping up troops in Vietnam, and Richard Nixon’s economic warfare in the 1973 Chilean coup, as I have, if they are interested in understanding why any accusation that I, as president, do not have historical precedent to back me up on this border security effort is without merit.” Trump also added that such precedents, as well as U.S. military activity in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba, would give him more than sufficient historical justification for any similarly unprovoked, unilateral military action his administration may decide to undertake in Venezuela.
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