Purge of the guard
You have to hand it to President Donald Trump, he completed the purge of his praetorian guard. With the dismissal of James “Maddog” Mattis, the original team of H.R. McMaster, Nikki Haley and John Kelly have been removed from shaping national security issues. Moreover, his decision to pull troops from Syria signaled a reorientation of United States foreign policy.
But Trump still has problems — John Bolton still lurks in the White House and the Pentagon continues to border on insubordination. Meanwhile, the leading war advocate Lindsey Graham is up to his usual tricks. Have war will travel, in Syria, in Iran, in Afghanistan, anywhere Graham pleases is where he wants Trump to intervene. He’s so eager for war he has practically taken out pom-poms to cheer Trump’s mythical wall.
Anything for Trump’s ear concerning foreign policy. But Graham is abasing himself to no purpose. Trump is correct about Syria, it is a lost cause in the first place and Afghanistan is a rat hole operation. Even neo-conservatives such as Robert Kagan believe that it is time to leave Kabal on its own. Of course, there is a downside to Trump’s desire to abandon the Afghan government — he might be planning to fulfill Bolton’s dream of a full scale war against Iran. But for the time being, the doctrine of spheres of influence appears to be triumphing over the Wilsonian declaration of American exceptionalism.
Despite all their attempts, the insulting pretensions of those who would “manage” Trump, their project appears to have failed. Better to be a Mitt Romney who takes on Trump rhetorically than those sneaky practices of a court Camarilla. Anonymous letters to the New York Times, leaks timed to embarrass Trump and snarky comments about “the grown ups” being in charge are disloyal and treacherous. No wonder Barack Obama fired Mattis and had to prune the wings of the hawks. Such practices undermine democratic government and strengthen an invisible clique. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, this is not the way to confront his policies.
And as for “grown ups,” Trump has outmaneuvered them at every turn. First, it was the bombast of Haley, then it was the pomposity of Generals Kelly and Mattis. Perhaps he will deal with the dangerous Bolton and the shadowy Michael Pompeo. Moreover, these so-called experts in another era plunged the United States into endless wars. If this is maturity, then better to be childish. Obama had to say no over Syria and so did Trump.
Naturally, the cheap shot crew is now taking Trump to task for a medical determent during Vietnam. Of course, these would-be warriors — so shocked over the lack of service on the part of the president — conveniently forget Dick Cheney’s deferments. I don’t seem to remember Bill Clinton’s involvement during the Vietnam War. Not to mention George W. Bush’s national guard avoidance. Remember Lyndon Johnson did not call up the reserves. No disrespect to those who did not fight, but many avoided combat, not just Trump.
The difference is Trump is not so eager to send others in harm’s way. He confronts the foreign policy establishment and the masters of war resent his being so bold. Not since John F. Kennedy during the missile crisis of 1962 has a president so defied conventional wisdom.