Is the White House a threat to America’s national security?

The alleged chaos in the White House and the president's divisive rhetoric makes the world a much more dangerous place. 

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President Donald Trump - August 2017 - Screen Shot by @CommDigiNews

WASHINGTON, August 21, 2017 — President Trump’s response to events in Charlottesville, his comparison of Klansmen and neo-Nazis with those protesting against them, and his claim that there were “fine people” on both sides provoked an unprecedented reaction, from Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives.

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said,

“I don’t understand what’s so hard about this. White supremacists and neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn’t be defended. Mr. President, we must call evil by its name.”

His Senate counterpart, Sen Cory Gardner,l R-Colo., said,


“These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

Mitt Romney noted that,

“Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.”

Similar statements were made by a host of others, including Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Tim Scott, R-SC, and John McCain, R-Ariz., former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and each of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan writes:

“It’s inconceivable to me that Trump, whose daughter Ivanka joined the Jewish people, married a Jew and has borne three Jewish grandchildren can’t bring himself to tweet (let alone say) that he has a problem with a crowd chanting ‘Jews will not replace us.’ What is wrong with this man? You can argue politics and taxes and healthcare and other bones of contention 100 different ways. But for God’s sake, pun intended, Trump isn’t even defending members of his own family against religious bigotry. “

According to The Economist, Trump

“has bungled the simplest of political tests: finding a way to condemn Nazis. Mr. Trump’s inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr. Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting ‘Jews will not replace us.’  Footage of the counter-demonstrators mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so; white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr. Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defense of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view. The nationalist right may remain an outnumbered fringe, but it is emboldened. It has friends in high places.”

Historian Jon Meacham recalls that Trump

“rose in national politics, after all, in part by questioning whether Barack Obama had been born in the U.S., thus capitalizing on, and fueling, the racist and xenophobic reaction to the election of the first African American President. Now in power, Trump governs for his base, and the alt-right is part of that base, a fact that gives white supremacists a kind of privileged status in the tangled political thickets of Trumpland. He may denounce such groups in the end, but … even then he equivocated.”

Why?

“‘Darkness is good,’ Stephen Bannon has said. When Joshua Green, the author of the book ‘Devil’s Bargain,’ asked Bannon about Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Trump’s popularity among white nationalists, Bannon replied, ‘We polled the race stuff and it doesn’t matter.'”

The alleged chaos in the White House and the president’s divisive rhetoric makes the world a much more dangerous place.

What U.S. foreign policy represents at the present time, is impossible for either our friends or foes to understand. In Asia, the highest-ranking U.S. Military officer flew to Seoul to move away from Trump’s Aug. 8 vow, which aides confirmed he made without consulting anyone, that any further threat from North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. told South Korea’s leader that the crisis in the Korean Peninsula ought to be defused “through diplomatic and economic pressure.” Dunford then flew to Beijing and Tokyo to offer additional assurances.

Dunford then flew to Beijing and Tokyo to offer additional assurances.

On Aug. 11, the president was asked about Venezuela. With the government of President Nicolas Maduro grabbing more power, and protests growing, thus far it has proved a threat only to its own people.

“We have many options for Venezuela,” Trump declared. “And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option.”

In Latin America, there was dismay. The Defense Secretary of Colombia called the threat “crazy.”

Riordan Roett, head of Latin American studies at Johns Hopkins University, said,

“Trump’s comments appeared to be, as usual, a sudden outburst that was not thought through. It puts the U.S. In the position of the ‘bully,’ not unlike the warmongering of North Korea.”

Critics note that U.S. presidents usually respond to provocations, not produce them.  In June, his tweets in support of the Saudi Arabia-led campaign to isolate Qatar elevated a rivalry between U.S. allies into a regional crisis in the Middle East that is already sharply divided. And his repeated attacks on the Iran nuclear agreement gives comfort to Iranian hard-liners.

On Aug. 15, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani felt compelled to warn that the country’s nuclear program could be resumed “within hours” if Trump imposes threatened new sanctions. Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran specialist  at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, reports:

“The hardliners in Iran are feeling hopeful that if the deal unravels, they won’t be blamed for it, the U.S. will be blamed for it. It’s the opposite of five years ago, when there was a bombastic Iranian president. They feel like Ahmadinejad is in Washington.”

After the terrorist attack in Barcelona, the president showed himself to be out of control. He repeated the false story that General John Pershing had stopped Islamic terrorism in the Philippines by killing dozens of them with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood, a strategy he evidently thinks worthy of emulation.

He knows this story is false because he has told it before and been informed that it never happened. Why is the President of the United States repeating false stories?  Will anyone believe him about anything in a time of real trouble?

Trump seems to be in constant, almost daily conflict with others. The terms used most often to describe him are “bombastic” and “combative.” This has little to do with political differences. He is usually at war with members of his own party.

The only person he is hesitant to personally attack is Vladimir Putin. What is going on in Donald Trump’s mind? It is his own lack of self-control which is harming his ability to be a successful president. He is his own worst enemy. He lacks the generosity of spirit that is essential in a leader.

The alleged chaos in the White House is a serious threat to our national security and well-being. It is time for Secretaries Mattis and Tillerson, Generals Kelly and McMaster, and Sen. McConnell and House Speaker Ryan to decide what they will do about it.

The nation’s future demands that they choose wisely.

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Allan C. Brownfeld
Received B.A. from the College of William and Mary, J.D. from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law of the College of William and Mary, and M.A. from the University of Maryland. Served as a member of the faculties of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, Alexandria, Virginia and the University College of the University of Maryland. The recipient of a Wall Street Journal Foundation Award, he has written for such newspapers as The Houston Press, The Washington Evening Star, The Richmond Times Dispatch, and The Cincinnati Enquirer. His column appeared for many years in Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. His articles have appeared in The Yale Review, The Texas Quarterly, Orbis, Modern Age, The Michigan Quarterly, The Commonweal and The Christian Century. His essays have been reprinted in a number of text books for university courses in Government and Politics. For many years, his column appeared several times a week in papers such as The Washington Times, The Phoenix Gazette and the Orange County Register. He served as a member of the staff of the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, as Assistant to the research director of the House Republican Conference and as a consultant to members of the U.S. Congress and to the Vice President. He is the author of five books and currently serves as Contributing Editor of The St. Croix Review, Associate Editor of The Lincoln Review and editor of Issues.