Dear Donald –
Arthur Vandenberg was a U.S. Senator from Michigan from 1928 until his death in 1951. In 1948, Vandenberg was the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Democratic President Harry Truman was considering a security treaty with North Atlantic allies. Vandenberg famously said that “politics stops at the water’s edge” in defending his support of Truman’s efforts leading to the creation of NATO. The national security of our country is not an issue of Democratic or Republican politics or what provides the electoral advantage at home. It’s about what makes us safer and our citizenry more secure.
That’s why your reorganization of the National Security Council is so disturbing. The Director of National Intellligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are out and your chief political strategist is in. When asked yesterday about what Steve brings to the table that qualifies him to be a member, Sean Pointed to his career as a naval officer. Steve was in the Navy from 1976 until 1983 rising to the rank oflieutenant (the third lowest rank). General John Dunford, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined the Marines in 1977 and is currently a four-star General (the highest rank). Who are we supposed to believe has greater military insights?
Sean also insinuated that the NSC is often tasked with taking in and assessing raw intelligence data and therefore needs to be more streamlined. First off, no one at that level is looking at raw intelligence data. They’re looking at summaries and assessments. But let’s assume that’s not the case. Who is more qualified to analyze and provide context for those data – Steve or the Director of Narional Intelligence?
Having a political advisor take precedence over the intelligence and military communities is dangerous. Back in 2003, the decision was made to invade Iraq and the White House went on a fishing expedition to find facts to support that decision, contexts be damned. Nada Bakos, one of the CIA’s top analysts at the time, could do a point by point rebuttal in real time of Colin’s presentation to the U.N. Security Council with all the facts, while technically true, pulled wildly out of context. Letting politics drive decision-making leads to a “ready, fire, aim” approach to international relations, and we can’t afford to do that.
Lives are on the line. This is not a game. We need to act internationally with restraint and respect for both the context and the commitment we’re making. We should be taking into account the views of military leaders and intelligence officers, not a political strategist who’s demonstrated himself to be racist, misogynistic, and islamophobic. That’s a recipe for disaster.