Thursday, June 29, 2017

General Decline

Stories over the past couple of days indicate lots of problems with the state of US civil-military relations. 

We have an active general, HR McMaster, not just doing the job of coordinating US foreign policy as National Security Adviser, but also serving as advocate and cheerleader for this administration.  As a result, he is just losing credibility by the hour. The idea that Trump's stance towards Europe is "tough love" is utter crap.  And because McMaster still is a 3 star general, his huckstering for Trump not only dimishes himself and the office of NSAdviser, but also raises questions about the military and its politicization.  This is the danger in having an active officer in this role--now we have folks in uniform defending this administration, when their job is to defend the Constitution and the country.

Then there is Mattis who mostly disappeared this week when the White House was speaking out about chemical weapons in Syria and Central Command was unconcerned.  Tis the job of the SecDef to manage the relationship between the civilians in the executive branch and the combatant commands/commanders around the world.  Eventually he caught up to events, but that was a long 12 hours or so if there was anyone connecting the civilians to the military.  So, yeah, we have a bit of a crisis in US civ-mil. 

The story about Qatar, where Mattis and Tillerson saw the political and military equities at work and found themselves sidelined by .... Jared Kushner, is not all that revealing but does remind us of the basic reality: folks who bet and continue to bet on the "adults" are foolish. 

I was at an event this week where someone was not happy with my line on this, and said I should be optimistic about Trump and his gang of generals.  I laughed in his face. We are in for a tough four years, and being overly optimistic is probably not a good way to proceed.

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