There are profound civil-military implications in Bob Woodward’s account of how Defense Secretary James Mattis has handled President Donald Trump.
After a discussion of North Korea, "Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — 'a fifth- or sixth-grader.'"
Trump told Mattis in a telephone call to kill Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, in retaliation for using chemical weapons. Mattis concluded the call, then said, “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.”
“At a July 2017 National Security Council meeting, Trump dressed down his generals and other advisers for 25 minutes, complaining that the United States was losing.” (I actually have some sympathy with Trump on this one. I don’t think the military can explain what we are doing in Afghanistan at this point.)
General Kelly on Trump: “He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.”
Weirdly, Trump criticized his national security advisor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, for dressing in cheap suits "like a beer salesman." One reason McMaster dresses as he does is that he has spent his life serving his country, rather than making money. And, to be honest, he is built like a heavyweight boxer, and it is hard to find off-the-rack suits that fit that build.
Not strictly national security, but certainly indicative of a national emergency: Trump’s lawyer told him, “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit.” Then he resigned.
What I take away from all this is that Mattis is in a difficult position. Trump is upsetting norms of how presidents behave, some of them dating back to George Washington. In response, Mattis is straining the rules of how a defense secretary and the military treat a president, some of them also dating back to Washington.
My conclusions: We all know that Trump is damaging how the government operates. But there is more damage going on behind the scenes. And it is going to get worse before it is all over.
The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach via Reuters)
The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.
U.S. President Donald Trump departs on travel to Palm Beach, Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election did not find that any U.S. or Trump campaign officials knowingly conspired with Russia, according to details released on Sunday.
Attorney General William Barr sent a summary of conclusions from the report to congressional leaders and the media on Sunday afternoon. Mueller concluded his investigation on Friday after nearly two years, turning in a report to the top U.S. law enforcement officer.
Read Barr's letter to congressional leaders below:
This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
CARACAS (Reuters) - Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela's main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.
A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday.
If the Marine Corps is serious about getting ready to take on a near-peer enemy like China in the future, then it's time to fold its 13-year-old special operations command and apply those resources elsewhere.
At least that's the argument one retired Marine officer made this week while presenting ways the service can better prepare for large-scale naval operations – and it's causing quite a stir in the Marine Corps special operations community.