the gauntlet…

…has been “thrown down.”

Yesterday General Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Council mouthpiece, has threatened Iran to behave “or else.”

Immediately upon the heels of a well-received roll out of the president’s Supreme Court candidate, Trump regresses once again to his bully pulpit. The inherent threat in Flynn’s words “As of today we are officially putting Iran on notice”  leads one to think the president is prepared to go to war.

“I love war in a certain way.” Words spoken by Trump during his presidential campaign. Ironic since he avoided serving in the military, and never suffered the anxiety other parents do when sending their children off to defend our country and what it stands for…freedom and a democratic way of life.

Prior to becoming president, Trump gushed profusely about his love for the vets. Now, ensconced in the ultimate position of power, he seems more than willing to put America’s military in harm’s way at the slightest provocation, real or perceived.

With Trump at the helm, we face the possibility of war on several fronts…in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, considering the firestorm currently brewing in the Ukraine. The global chaos, owing in great part to Trump’s erratic behavior, is negatively impacting his promise to “make America great again.”

Trump is the inveterate champion in the war of words…whether he utters them personally, or commands any one of a number of surrogates to speak for him.

Because of his demand that Mexico pay for the wall he has promised to build, Trump has essentially instigated a war with that country.

Because of his travel ban on Muslims entering the U.S. from 7 countries, Trump has angered Muslims the world over. And it doesn’t help that he’s also declared his intention to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

As though that weren’t enough, Trump blasts Australia’s prime minister as though he were some lowly file clerk instead of a prominent world leader and our valuable ally. Who could fault the Australians if they decide not to sacrifice their sons and daughters should Trump wage war with China in the south seas?

If we escape shedding blood on foreign shores during Trump’s presidency, it won’t be for lack of his trying…mightily. If his first attempt is any sign of Trump’s skills at real war…not ones made-for-TV or the big screen…America is in big trouble. Navy seal William Owens, 36, of Illinois was needlessly killed in a raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen that wasn’t scrupulously vetted

According to David Sanger of the New York Times…

Usually, a president goes down in the Situation Room, is presented with what they call a full package for the attack. There’s a legal assessment of the legal authorities under which they’re doing these. There’s a risk assessment to the commandos who would be doing it. There is a risk assessment of what could happen to civilians who are in the area.

This particular attack had been set up by the Obama administration. They had debated it, and President Obama decided about 10 days before the end of his term that he couldn’t approve it because the Pentagon really wanted to go in under the complete cover of darkness, a moonless night. And the next moonless night wasn’t going to be until after he was no longer in office.

So, they kicked this one over to the new administration. And it looks like President Trump got briefed on it, by and large, at a dinner, not in the Situation Room, not with legal advisers around. His secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, was there. Vice President Pence was there. Stephen Bannon, who has emerged as the newest member of the National Security Council, known really more for his political advice than military, was there.

So was his new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who is a veteran of many of these.

But the discussion took place in a dinner situation. And he approved the raid at that dinner.

And I think one of the questions, given how many things have gone wrong, is, would it have been different if he had been in the Situation Room and perhaps had a different set of briefings?

Sanger goes on to say…

We don’t have a lot of view into the decision — discussion that they had at the dinner table.

But I think Richard [Atwood] raises one of the most important points. Over time, presidents learn that the biggest risk out here is not only the civilian risk and the risk to American forces, but whether — as Donald Rumsfeld used to say, whether you’re creating terrorists faster than you’re killing them.

And certainly, if you have a case like this where there appear to have been considerable civilian casualties, that may well be the case, especially because, even if some of those civilians may have taken up arms and fired against the SEALs, in the mythology of what went on, you’re going to hear a story of SEALs who dropped out of the sky and suddenly attacked a remote village in Yemen.

And you can imagine the recruiting capability of that. So, you know, part of what’s going on here…is that you have in the Trump administration a group that believes that the decision-making in these kind of cases has to be shortened, that more of the power has to be devolved down to the Pentagon, the commanders.

And yet, in the first case that the president approved, things went very badly wrong. And you have to wonder whether or not that is going to have the effect of making them think that they need to slow down and think more about the effects of these and get fuller briefings, or whether they’re simply going to say, look, this happens sometimes.

One has to wonder about Trump’s cavalier attitude toward risking the lives of those he espouses to love…the military. With his own sons and son-in-law out of harm’s way and living the great life for which other American sons and daughters are making the ultimate sacrifice, Trump engages world leaders as though he were playing a game of chess. And judging from his seeming disdain for deep thinking, I wouldn’t bet on him to win at chess, let alone…

…war.

 

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