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Trump and the Generals

Don Rose 9 August 2017 No Comment

For a guy who spent the election campaign disdaining generals, Trump has stuffed more into his cabinet than any president since World War II.

   Remember his boast, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” Or the other gem, “I know more about offense and defense than they will ever understand.”  Then came “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.”


   So why have so many three-and-four-star generals taken those jobs? Do they think they can learn something at the feet of the master?

   His first, worst and shortest-lived pick was General Michael Flynn as director of national intelligence–who conveniently forgot how many millions he made representing Turkey’s dictator and belatedly registered as a foreign agent. Ousted (theoretically)for  lying to VP Michael Pence ,he remains a favorite of Trump, who fired James Comey for refusing to drop the FBI investigation of Flynn. Some wickedly suspicious folk believe Flynn has something on our  “military” president.

  Flynn also seems to be the first clear target of  Special Counsel Robert Mueller–who may have him nailed and could be in the process of flipping him.

   Flynn was replaced by retired General HR McMaster, widely described as an “intellectual” with a reputation for telling truth to power–though he was a central figure in the Iraq war. McMaster has defended Trump–possibly after a sip of Kool Aid. On the other hand, he has become the prime target of “Darth” Bannon, Breitbart and much of the far right for advising Trump not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Any enemy of Bannon’s must have some fine qualities, but rumors are Trump may reassign him to Afghanistan.

  Now comes former director of homeland security General John Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff. He is supposed to restore order to the Trumpian chaos and become a rigid gate-keeper of the Oval Office. Never mind how he flubbed the rollout of Trump’s initial Muslim ban–it was sprung on him with no forewarning. Never mind how he was going to ban laptop computers as carry-ons for all international flights. That’s just one of those things the military mind comes up with when there has been insufficient contact with the civilian world.

   We’ll see if his gate-keeping keeps Ivanka and Jared from wandering in and out–and how that military mind works with the Congress. Any bets on his longevity?

  Relatively unscathed as yet is retired four-star Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Trump’s secretary of defense who appears to be widely respected for his ability and leadership–though he, too, was immersed in Iraq. He and McMaster are said to feel duty-bound to protect the world from more serious Trumpian misdeeds. Good luck with that.

   Some past generals did good works in civilian roles. George Marshall as one. Colin Powell was a better as an ex-secretary of state. Then there was a moderate president named Eisenhower, who, next to Trump, looks like John Adams.

   In Ike’s day we said the country was run by three generals: General Eisenhower, General Electric and General Motors. When do the Koch Brothers get their stars?

Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

image Donald Trump and Doug Flutie of the New Jersey Generals 



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