Sunday, September 03, 2017

Wise Strategy

President Trump seems confused. Sunday morning he tweeted  "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing."

Friends don't let friends drive drunk, or embarrass them publicly, which may be why Trump never embarrasses his friend VP in the Kremlin. While the USA is too close to some nations, such as Saudi Arabia, it is unnecessarily hostile to others, such as Mexico. But this should be simple enough for even Donald Trump to understand: Russian and mainland China, adversaries; Japan and South Korea, allies.

But the President evinces confusion- or ignorance- about other things, too.  Sunday he tweeted also "I will be meeting General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea. Thank you."

NO thank you, Mr. President.  As befits someone with an impressive title- Director of New Business Development, North America at Medius Software- a fellow named Harold Itzkowitz cogently responds "You know that Kelly and Mattis are civilians, right- that we have a civilian government?"

Nonetheless, if Trump does not understand one of the basic lessons of Civics 101, it's understandable. Neither do many members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who on March 7

overwhelmingly approved Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s shift to the White House to be President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.

The 23-2 vote came after McMaster met with committee members for nearly two hours behind closed doors to discuss his move from a military assignment to one of the most influential jobs in all of U.S. government. Two members of the committee abstained from voting.

“The vote was very overwhelming in favor of approving his status as a three-star general to remain on active-duty,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the panel’s chairman, told reporters following the session.

McMaster’s appearance before the committee was unusual because national security advisers aren’t subject to Senate confirmation and typically don’t testify on Capitol Hill. But McMaster’s situation is different. He elected to remain in uniform rather than retire from military service, and generals of his grade need the chamber’s approval when they’re promoted or get new assignments.

McCain said he’s confident the full Senate will follow suit and re-appoint McMaster as a lieutenant general while serving as Trump’s national security adviser.

That, unsurprisingly, it did, with only eight Senators (all Democrats) dissenting. One Democrat, freshman (freshwoman? freshperson?) Kirsten Gillibrand voted both on the floor and in committee against allowing McMaster to hold dual allegiances- uh, er, positions- though instead citing his failure to address adequately sexual assault charges made against two servicemen.

But maybe Gillibrand, with more backbone than most of the others, only knew her place. The Senate Armed Services Committee had given a pass to General Colin Powell, then on active duty, who went on to be National Security Advisor to President Reagan in 1981-1982.

It just isn't polite to say "no" to generals, for whom the President of the United States is their Commander-in-Chief if- and only if- they are on active duty.  Accordingly, McMaster was trotted out by the White House in May to mislead reporters and the American people about the President's revelation of classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office.  Had he chosen not to prostrate himself, he would have disobeyed his commander-in-chief.

The President chose three individuals- two of whom are honorably serving their country- whom everyone is reluctant to criticize because their first names are "General."  One of the three shouldn't be in his position (or should be retired from the military) but Trump may have been sharp enough to realize they would be almost immune from public criticism.

So maybe Donald Trump knew very well what he was doing with each of these appointments. Of his tweets about Korea, however, he is simply dangerous.

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