This -n- That

There’s been a lot going on this week.  While I haven’t had time to write a long-form post till now, here are a few scattered thoughts on recent developments:

It’s interesting that for a couple days it looked as though Trump were going squishy on demanding funding for border security (the wall).  But as with many issues in this administration, it often seems the news coverage greatly exaggerates the death of the president’s resolve on key issues (and this may the media’s intent).  It says something that within 24 hours the talk went from Trump being stymied by his own party in the House, to Speaker Ryan very publicly bending to the administration’s wishes.  In short, Trump comes out of this with a stronger hand, not a weaker one, even if the Senate fails to follow through.

Meanwhile, in the tradition of Tocqueville’s observations about Americans self-organizing, “we the people” are making a stab at ‘doing the jobs our government won’t do,’ to appropriate a phrase.  In less than 4 days, a private fundraising effort for the wall has drawn nearly 200,000 donors and, as of this writing, over $12.1 million.  While this large sum is dwarfed by the estimated $5 billion to build the wall, the enthusiasm being shown may well have tipped the balance for the actions in the House yesterday.  There is, after all, more than one way for the citizens to make their point, if they are determined to do so.

The departure of Secretary of Defense James Mattis set many tongues wagging yesterday.  Mattis was a highly regarded Marine general and military intellectual, known as the ‘warrior monk’ before putting on the suit and taking over as SECDEF.  But as others have pointed out, having operational and tactical savvy doesn’t necessarily translate into strategic acumen.  Regardless, it appears his resignation was predicated on disagreeing with Trump’s intent to disengage from Syria and greatly reduce our footprint in Afghanistan.  If they fundamentally disagreed on these policies, the honorable thing was for him to resign, not to backbite the president from the official perch at the Pentagon.  So regardless whether Trump’s policy proves wise or not, I respect Mattis for his action.  I also respect Trump for following through on a campaign promise to stop policing the world.  Unless someone can articulate a very clear, rational vision of what staying in Afghanistan can achieve, it’s time to recognize 17 years of occupation is long enough.  Let Syria and Afghanistan figure out their own destinies, and let’s free America to do the same by extricating ourselves from all these nebulous multilateral commitments.

That includes immigration.  The United Nations lived up to its reputation as wanting to be a global proto-government by creating a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.”  In other words, facilitating the mass movement of peoples into alien lands.  The United States was one of only five nations who refused to sign onto the compact, correctly noting it was an attempt to create international “soft law” that would infringe on our national sovereignty.  The other four refusals came from Israel, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic — all of whom have been under pressure for months due to their refusal to allow open passage across their borders.  Instead, they are putting the needs of their own citizens first… and what’s so immoral about that?

The real immorality today is the utter lack of accountability shown by the leaders of these various nations to the aspirations of their people and the requirements of the law. Whether it’s Theresa May slow-rolling the Brexit process, Emmanuel Macron trying to tax his people in the name of dubious “climate change” fearmongering or former FBI Director James Comey showing his utter disregard for legal protocols, the attitude is the same.  The main question today is how much longer will these globalist charlatans escape consequences for their actions.

Should have been the first choice

After all the ado over the withdrawal of General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, Team Trump has named in his stead Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who has been an influential, up-and-coming leader throughout the post-9/11 period, especially in Iraq.

I’ve heard McMaster give a public address on understanding the utility and limits of military force and the need for leaders to better understand the many human variables involved in that profession, and can vouch that his reputation for being a heavyweight military intellectual is well-deserved.  In an age where the military increasingly leans on impersonal technology and engineering, McMaster stands out with his PhD in History — and his emphasis on the many lessons a military leader can learn in that field. He is easily on par with the “Warrior Monk,” retired General James Mattis, who is now serving as the Secretary of Defense.

Flynn, on the other hand, is a documented loose cannon of sorts.  His is not the temperament you need in order to balance Trump’s tendency toward impulsiveness.  McMaster is far and away a better choice, and frankly should have been the original selection.

It’s my hope the current administration will stop involving the U.S. in an ever-increasing number of piddly half-hearted wars abroad.  But if the U.S. does have to face a major military challenge, or chooses to “go big” in the war on terror vice the constant inconclusive simmer of the last 15 years, two of the most qualified men available (Mattis and McMaster) will be at the helm.  Say what you will about Trump, but he’s not afraid to surround himself with smart, candid people.  To me, that’s the mark of a leader, whatever his personal flaws.