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yvonne Abraham

The man who thinks Donald Trump is ‘treasonous’

Congressman Seth Moulton.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

“Young Americans will suffer and die because of the things Donald Trump is saying.”

Congressman Seth Moulton did not mince words when I asked him for a former Marine’s view of the Republican presidential hopeful’s foreign policy pronouncements.

“His foreign policy principles are morally corrupt,” he said. “They contradict our fundamental values as Americans, and they’re also incredibly stupid.”

If Trump had been commander in chief when Moulton was planning to join the military, he said, “I would have reconsidered.”

Here’s why: “One of the things that made me most proud as a Marine is that we never let the enemy change our values. So what would it mean if our own commander in chief asked us to do that? . . . It makes Trump treasonous to our fundamental ideals.”

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Treasonous. That’s pretty unequivocal.

Trump delivered a foreign policy speech on Wednesday full of empty bravado, vacant generalities, baffling contradictions, and outright falsehoods. In his attempt to seem more serious as the likely GOP nominee, he temporarily refrained from advocating war crimes, like torturing our enemies and murdering their innocent children. But the very next morning he was back at it, saying he wouldn’t rule out using nuclear weapons to wipe out ISIS.

You would think that, at some point, a candidate would understand that running for president isn’t a game, that the outrageous things he says at campaign rallies would give way to actual policy proposals. But it’s clear now that that isn’t going to happen. Trump’s disaster of a speech laid bare the chasm between the crowd-pleasing boasts on which he has doubled down, and the complex reality of protecting this country in a world of anxious friends and terrifying foes.

It’s a reality Moulton lived during four tours in Iraq as a Marine infantry officer between 2003 and 2008. There, the values the military is meant to uphold — the oath they swear, to protect and defend the Constitution — are absolutely essential to their success. The Iraqis he encountered would have had no regard for the troops he led if they didn’t stand for clear ideals, Moulton said.

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“Fundamentally, you are developing a level of trust with the people,” Moulton said. “We may not agree on everything, but the people in the Middle East need to look at us and know that our actions are representative of our values as Americans.”

If he were on active duty, and a President Trump tried to put some of his most despicable policies into action, Moulton said he’d face a tough choice.

“I swore an oath to the Constitution, not to the commander in chief,” Moulton said. “Any time you talk about violating orders, it’s dangerous territory. But the oath we take is to the Constitution.”

It will be tempting for some to dismiss his concerns as the predictable attacks from a Democratic partisan.

Two things to remember, though. First, Moulton has been plenty critical of his own party’s president when it comes to Iraq and Syria, repeatedly arguing that the Obama administration has no real plan to bring stability to the region. Second, he’s not the only veteran who has raised the prospect of military leaders refusing to obey his orders: The others include Michael Hayden , the four-star general and former head of the NSA and CIA — a Republican.

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Trump, of course, says that won’t happen. “If I say do it, they’re going to do it,” he told Fox News. If he did become president, he could be in for a rude awakening.

And Trump is dangerous right now, creating further hazards for the men and women in uniform taking risks that he, like many other young men facing a tour in Vietnam, found ways to avoid.

“I’m very concerned,” Moulton said. “It’s frightening for our country, frightening for our future, and frightening for our troops.”


Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at yvonne.abraham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeAbraham.