I’ve said it dozens of times in RedState posts but I’ll say it again. Scratch a leftwing academic and you will find an anti-military bigot panting to get out.
The latest thing that has the left in an uproar is Trump’s decision to select James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and H. R. McMaster to lead the NSC. Apparently, having military people in leadership roles in the administration is a direct affront to civilian control of the military and a danger to our Constitutional republic in a way that Obama’s blatant, in-your-face lawlessness never was.
“Because you have a lot of military minds thinking of this in a military context, you are going to get answers to things that are really, really finely tuned to the military considerations but not the diplomatic considerations or even the domestic political considerations (by the way, did I miss something, or wasn’t Steve Bannon on the NSC thought to be a bad idea),” said Alice Hunt Friend, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who held several senior policy positions in the Obama-era Pentagon. “That is something the president should be very concerned about. Civilians are supposed to give them the political context of what they are doing and why they are doing it.”
“Effective civilian control requires three things: clear role delineation between Mattis, McMaster, and Dunford, set by the president and transparent to everyone on the NSC; a defense and military apparatus that is totally clear on the same; and strong civilian and non-defense counterparts, especially at the State Department,” said Loren DeJonge Schulman, who recently served as senior adviser to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. She was previously the chief of staff to the assistant Defense secretary for international security affairs.
“Through no fault of Mattis’ and McMaster’s,” she added, “it doesn’t seem like we’re even close to having any of those.”
It is also not clear to Schulman that Trump, who has repeatedly praised the military prowess of his Cabinet officers such as Mattis and McMaster, fully understands the civilian-military balance and why civilian control has been considered inviolate in the American system.
“By the president’s own words, it’s not apparent he’s clear on the two of them being in civilian roles, period,” she said.
Smith, a vocal skeptic of the decision to grant Mattis a waiver to serve as Defense secretary, said he worries that “hard-core Pentagon military folks are driving the ship.”
“They spend all day looking at bogeymen and figure out how to get them,” he said in an interview. “They have a certain way of looking at the world. There needs to be a counterbalance.”
This is such a seething mass of stupid that one doesn’t know where to start. What Alice Hunt Friend is saying is that men like Mattis, who actually acted as one of America’s leading diplomats in the Middle East (make no mistake about it, the regional combatant commanders are essentially America viceroys) are incapable of taking political considerations into consideration because they are knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. If you check Friend’s bio, you’ll find that her sole qualification for the post she held was being an Obama supporter. She has neither the training, education or experience to make the statement she makes. Loren DeJonge Schulman’s description of civilian control of the military is bizarre. Civilian control is established when a) the president is a civilian, b) the SecDef is a civilian and c) senior officers require Senate confirmation to assume duty positions.
I find Smith, in particular, to be a noxious butt pustule. People with military experience, particularly those with combat experience, are much more likely to shy away from taking actions that may lead to significant military involvement than are civilians. It wasn’t a lack of civilian control that got us involved in Somalia. It wasn’t a lack of civilian control that caused the Balkans to be mismanaged. It wasn’t a lack of civilian control that caused the occupation of Iraq to fail. It wasn’t a lack of civilian control that created ISIS, gave Iraq to Iran, and kicked off the ISIS takeover of Libya and the civil war in Syria. All of these decisions were made because military considerations and opinions were made subordinate to diplomatic and domestic political requirements.
In particular, Smith and Schulman seem to be under the impression that monumentally incompetent and unqualified people, like Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice and Samantha Power, bring with them some unique ability to solve problems rather than f*** up relentlessly.
If you cut to the chase, the objections Smith and Schulman raise are about place and prerogatives. Neither of these people accomplished anything in their lives before joining the Obama administration. There they contributed to eight years of unmitigated and uninterrupted failure that will take the nation a generation or two to recover from. However, they believe because they think the right thoughts and know the right people and have read the right books that they are qualified to run the country. They especially seem to subscribe to the idea that many stupid voices are better than a few sane ones and that no idea is too bizarre and unhinged to be left undiscussed and undebated. They are particularly fearful of a coherent foreign defense policy, rather than banging from one crisis to another like the ball in a pinball machine because that will reveal them for the incompetent blowhards that they are.
Guys like Mattis and McMaster have not only been in combat but the military has an extensive professional education system that, at the upper levels, focuses on national strategy and especially politico-diplomatic aspects of national strategy because the military, unlike Smith and Schulman, knows that the best way to use military power is to never have to use it.