This is big news. Really, really big news. From the New York Times:
Fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials, many of them former top aides or cabinet members for President George W. Bush, have signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
Mr. Trump, the officials warn, “would be the most reckless president in American history.”
The letter says Mr. Trump would weaken the United States’ moral authority and questions his knowledge of and belief in the Constitution. It says he has “demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding” of the nation’s “vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances and the democratic values” on which American policy should be based. And it laments that “Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.”
“None of us will vote for Donald Trump,” the letter states, though it notes later that many Americans “have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us.”
Furthermore, those who signed the letter are not just any high ranking national security advisors -- they are quite literally the most prominent names around:
Among the most prominent signatories are Michael V. Hayden, a former director of both the C.I.A. and the National Security Agency; John D. Negroponte, who served as the first director of national intelligence and then deputy secretary of state; and Robert B. Zoellick, another former deputy secretary of state, United States trade representive and, until 2012, president of the World Bank. Two former secretaries of homeland security, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, also signed, as did Eric S. Edelman, who served as Vice President Dick Cheney’s national security adviser and as a top aide to Robert M. Gates when he was secretary of defense.
Robert Blackwill and James Jeffrey, two key strategists in Mr. Bush’s National Security Council, and William H. Taft IV, a former deputy secretary of defense and ambassador to NATO, also signed.
Their scathing criticism of Trump could possibly be a game changer given Republicans have traditionally been regarded as stronger on national security issues than Democrats, and have used it as an issue to rally voters around. Their brutal indictment of Trump's astounding ignorance and flippancy on national security issues effectively ends the argument that there is a real choice in this election. The letter was crafted in order to reach sane Republicans who can still be persuaded to, at the very least, not vote for Donald Trump.
While the Republican party is deeply fractured and at this point, almost completely dysfunctional, there are still party heads with considerable influence who understand what a Trump presidency would mean. Trump has treated these Republicans with disdain over the past year, and while they have been badly beaten back, they are not going to go down without a fight.
Of course this is not to condone official Republican foreign policy positions -- they are almost as bad as Trump's. But the standard Republican belligerence would not represent the apocalypse, and even those who helped send the country to war in Iraq and have been on the wrong side of every foreign policy decision over the past 25 years can see that.