Tag: Secretary of Defense

Cultural Sites Are No Crime


It should not be surprising that even commenters on Fox News would miss the obvious. President Trump tweeted about having 52 targets to match the 52 American hostages seized and held by the Khomeinist regime at its founding. He included the word “cultural” to describe at least one of the targets. Why is no one seeing the obvious here?

The US military does not develop target lists of international cultural treasures to smash. Who does not get this? President Trump is no LBJ, picking tactical targets. Surely everyone understands this. So, you can go with the obstinate position of someone like Ben Shapiro, certain that President Trump has no coherent foreign policy thoughts, and keep writing off every success as fortuitous and no thanks to The Great Big Ugly Man. On the other hand, you might just think for yourself for a moment.

Christmas Present for Hezbollah? [UPDATE: 1 January 2020]


Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper announced on December 29 that F-15E Strike Eagles bombed several Khomenist Iranian regime proxy force sites in Iraq and Syria. This apparently followed repeated provocations, attacks on Iraqi government forces where there were also U.S. forces in the vicinity. Such attacks would be intended to push U.S. forces into more and more protective isolation or withdrawal from the region, ceding regional influence to the Iranian ayatollahs.

The airstrikes back the increasing campaign of economic and diplomatic pressure, which is squeezing the thugocracy as the population increasingly shows unrest and discontent with the regime.

Citizen Mattis: The Importance of Civilian Control of the Military


One of the most difficult problems of any society is to establish a proper relationship between civilian authority and military power. Even before the Constitutional Convention, Americans were familiar with the problems of armies, and many delegates were fearful that a standing army would be a vehicle for despotism. Many of their concerns were highlighted in The Declaration of Independence as they noted several grievances of the violation of their liberties directly attributed to a standing army (Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures, the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power, quartering large bodies of armed troops, protecting [the British military] by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.)

The Constitution in 1787 made of point of having a check on the military’s power by civilian authorities. Congress was given the sole power to declare war, to lay and collect taxes for the common defense, and they were responsible for raising and supporting armies. The President was made Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and of the militia. This arrangement strengthened the civilian control of the military, and provided protection from having the sword and purse in a single hand. Jim Mattis’s nomination as the incoming Secretary of Defense doesn’t violate any constitutional principles, but does raise come concerns over the relationship between civilian leaders and their military counterparts.

When the Department of Defense was created in 1947, there was a specific provision that called for the Secretary of Defense to “be appointed from civilian life by the President…That a person who has within ten years been on active duty as a commissioned officer in a Regular component of the armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as Secretary of Defense.”  The concern of the 80th Congress was similar to that of the Founders: a career military professional who controls the military can be a danger to the liberty of citizens. Mattis retired from active duty only three years ago, and therefore he will need Congress to grant him waiver if he is to serve as the new Secretary of Defense.

Trump Chooses Gen. Mattis as Secretary of Defense?


generaljamesmattisWell done, Mr. President-elect. From the Washington Post:

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis to be secretary of defense, according to people familiar with the decision, nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform.

To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.

Late Night Reflections on Our New Secretary of Defense


Well, I didn’t know much about Ashton Carter until today. But good citizen that I am, I have tried to inform myself. What I have concluded from my study — admittedly not a deep one — is that Ashton Carter is the most singularly boring being in all of recorded human history ever to have wielded so much power.

Define B as “boringness quotient” and “P” as “capacity to destroy the world.” I would have said, until yesterday, that Angela Merkel expressed the world’s highest BP coefficient. But Ashton Carter just leaves her in the dust. She is as nothing in BP compared to our new Secretary of Defense.