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Monday, March 6, 2017

Do Generals Want War?

Donald Trump is a blowhard, reckless and feckless leader who is dangerously ignorant about foreign policy and military strategy. How do we know that? He has served up a plate filled with evidence before and after his assumption of the office of President.

An article by The Nation, a liberal media channel, says that "Trump's obsession with generals could send us straight into war with Iran." Usually, I agree with the Nation's point of view. In the same article, William Hartung characterizes, "Bannon and his motley crew of extremists in the White House," as being most influential. That concerns me more than "Generals," in general.

True is that the way that military leaders can best distinguish their abilities is on the battlefield or in the theater of war. That is where they earn their promotions. Does that mean that they want war?

In my experience over 30 years of engaging high-ranking military officers, I never met one that embraced war as the first resort. Most are very reluctant to expose soldiers and sailors to danger. When they do, they want to see a clear endgame and exit strategy. They want the reward to be worth the high cost.

Iran and North Korea pose the greatest dangers at present because they are rogue nations. They are very different in their governments. Iran is motivated as a country to achieve prosperity for its well-educated population of Shiite Muslims. They know that oil is running out and they embarked on a nuclear strategy to stay in business in the long run. They also have radical and hostile views about Israel and other nation states for which they may have no qualms about engaging in war. Nuclear weapons would give them a decisive edge, and that is why they pursue their development.

North Korea is another story for a different article.

The risks of attacking Iran's nuclear sites would have grave consequences that would likely envelop the world in a nuclear holocaust of some magnitude. It should not be an option.

"Trump’s Obsession With Generals Could Send Us Straight Into War With Iran 
The president’s foreign policy picks have set the stage for an aggressive military-first administration. 
By William D. HartungTODAY 12:17 PM

In the splurge of “news,” media-bashing, and Bannon is that’s been Donald Trump’s domestic version of a shock-and-awe campaign, it’s easy to forget just how much of what the new president and his administration have done so far is simply an intensification of trends long underway. Those who already pine for the age of Obama—a president who was smart, well-read, and not a global embarrassment—need to acknowledge the ways in which, particularly in the military arena, Obama’s years helped set the stage for our current predicament. 
This article originally appeared at To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from 
As a start, Nobel Prize or not, President Obama sustained, and in some cases accelerated, the militarization of American foreign policy that has been steadily increasing for the past three decades. In significant parts of the world, the US military has become Washington’s first and often the only tool—and the result has been disastrous wars, failing states, and spreading terror movements (as well as staggering arms sales) across the Greater Middle East and significant parts of Africa. Indicators of how militarily dependent Obama’s foreign policy became include the launching of a record number of drone strikes (10 times as many as in the Bush years), undeclared wars in at least six countries, the annual deployment of Special Operations forces to well over half of the countries on the planet, record arms sales to the Middle East, and a plethora of new Pentagon arms and training programs. 
Nonetheless, from the New START treaty (which Trump has called “another bad deal,” as he does any deal the Obama administration concluded) to the Iran nuclear deal to the opening with Cuba, Obama had genuine successes of a sort that our present narcissist in chief, with his emphasis on looking “tough” or tweeting at the drop of a hat, is unlikely to achieve. In addition, Obama did try to build on the nuclear-arms-control agreements and institutions created over the previous five decades, while Trump seems intent on dismantling them. 
Still, no one can doubt that our last president did not behave like a Nobel Peace Prize winner, not even in the nuclear arena where he oversaw the launching of a trillion-dollar “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal (including the development of new weapons and new delivery systems). And one thing is already clear enough: President Trump will prove no non-interventionist. He is going to build on Obama’s militarization of foreign policy and most likely dramatically accelerate it. 
It’s no secret that our new president loves generals. He’s certainly assembled the most military-heavy foreign-policy team in memory, if not in American history, including Gen. James Mattis (ret.) at the Pentagon; Gen. John Kelly (ret.) at Homeland Security; Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as national-security adviser (a replacement for Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who left that post after 24 days); and as chief of staff of the National Security Council, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg (ret.). 
In addition, CIA Director Mike Pompeo is a West Point graduate and former Cold War–era Army tank officer. Even White House adviser Steve Bannon has done military service of a sort. The military background of Trump’s ideologue-in-chief was emphasized by White House spokesman Sean Spicer in his defense of seating him on the National Security Council (NSC). Bannon’s near-brush with fame as a naval officer came when he piloted a destroyer in the Gulf of Oman trailing the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz that carried the helicopters used in the Carter administration’s botched 1980 attempt to rescue US hostages held by Iran’s revolutionary government. As it happened, Bannon’s ship was ordered back to Pearl Harbor before the raid was launched, so he learned of its failure from thousands of miles away. 
When it comes to national-security posts of any sort, it’s clear that choosing a general is now Trump’s default mode. Three of the four candidates he considered for Flynn’s spot were current or retired generals. And that’s not even counting retired vice-admiral Robert Harward, who declined an offer to take Flynn’s post, in part evidently because he wasn’t prepared to battle Bannon over the staffing and running of the NSC. The only civilian considered for that role was one of the more bellicose guys in town, that ideologue, Iranophobe, former UN ambassador, and neocon extraordinaire John Bolton. The bad news: Trump was evidently impressed by Bolton, who may still get a slot alongside Bannon and his motley crew of extremists in the White House.

Trump, a military school cadet, with a college deferment

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