Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

President Trump launches what amounts to a direct attack on US national security

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President Trump is truly a real and present danger to national security. The oath taken by uniformed service members includes stating that the individual “will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and President Trump is looking increasingly like one of the domestic enemies, even apart from his continued violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution (which the GOP Congress studiously ignores).

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative Republican blogger for the Washington Post, writes:

President Trump may have meant it, or he may have been making an excuse for the mindbogglingly ineptitude in failing to fill virtually any sub-Cabinet jobs. In either event, he declared in an interview with Fox News that he won’t fill many of the political appointment slots he has at his disposal. “A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint someone because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump said. “In government, we have too many people.”

This suggests a stunning level of ignorance and political naivete about how government operates. “Extremely dumb and counterproductive,” is how Trump critic and former State Department official Eliot Cohen sees it. “Despite what many conservatives think, the State Department is understaffed and underfunded as is. We need more and better diplomats around the world.  This is the product of a kind of ignorant malice that will only damage our country’s ability to shape the world and get along in it.” He continued, “Moreover, by failing to fill State Department slots, the administration would be sending the world a message that it does not give a damn about diplomacy — which will be read as a sign either of incompetence or belligerence, or both.”

When combined with reported budget cuts, the result can be devastating. “By slashing the State Department budget and leaving key jobs unfilled, President Trump is proactively hollowing out America’s national security infrastructure,” said Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution. “Senior officials in the State and Defense Departments are on the front lines of pushing back against China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. They lead and wage the struggle every day. President Trump is taking these players off the field. It is a huge boon for America’s rivals.”

The savings Trump might obtain are tiny compared to the damage he might do. “It is hard to saying how slashing the relatively minuscule State Department operating budget and foreign assistance can help protect either the nation or the [budget],” said former ambassador Eric Edelman. “It can only contribute, down the road, to greater need to rely on the military instrument of national power rather than seeking to advance the national interest and avoid conflict through diplomacy. On the other hand, I can imagine that if you want to force poor Secretary Tillerson into spending all his time and energy on keeping the lights on in American embassies abroad rather than on the policy fights in Washington, this is a grand strategy.”

Conservatives who want their policies advanced will be horrified to hear that Trump is not planning on filling the ranks of political appointees but rather is going to let “acting” officials, in many cases holdovers from the Obama administration or permanent civil service employees, staff those jobs. Take the Justice Department. For years conservative lawyers (some of whom compiled the list of potential Supreme Court justices for Trump) railed about the politicization of the Justice Department from section heads down to staff lawyers. Trump has not yet nominated people for more than two dozen open positions at Justice, including the heads of the civil rights division and the national security division. He is trusting existing staff, many of whom came into government under the Obama administration, to man these positions.

“Leaving jobs vacant will harm the White House’s agenda and do little to reduce the budget deficit,” said John Yoo, who worked in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 February 2017 at 11:23 am

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