The Presidency is not for Amateurs

Until the most recent presidential election, this country has never had a president who had absolutely no experience working within the government. Lincoln is the closest be he did hold a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives and was a captain in the state’s militia. Trump, however has had no such experience what-so-ever and it is beginning to show in spades.

Our country has had several presidents who held no previous elective offices but all were army generals. Two, Polk and Grant, were no good as president and served just a single term. But even they had some understanding of the nuances of governing. Historically, flag officers, generals and admirals, have had to deal with politicians if only to promote a part of the military needing funding or other political favor. As an aside, of the 44 individuals who have served as president, only 13 had no military service. But of those 13, FDR had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and William Howard Taft served as Secretary of War.

In the 19th Century and into the beginning of the 20th Century, our country was isolationist. We were far more worried about what was happening on the home front than on being a force, either economically of militarily, on the world scene. World War 1 brought us part way out of that malaise, and World War 2 ended any lingering effects of isolationism. The United States had become a world leader first militarily and then economically. And since 1945, our responsibilities in both areas have steadily increased to where the rest of the world, even those countries who do not like us, look closely at what we do. This is particularly true of our economic and military partners.

President Trump just showed on the world’s stage how ill-suited he is for the job of president. He took a victory lap for landing a billion-dollar military deal claiming it will mean jobs for Americans. It may mean a few jobs, but the truth is, the contracts will be for equipment American companies are already producing and those companies are not likely to find the need to add many, if any, new employment positions. But Trump missed the more important deal to be had. Saudi Arabia flatly refused to put sanctions on ISIS groups existing within its own borders. Trump’s move was to leave the country with no military deal. For all his bluster about getting tough on ISIS, when the first chance for him to back up his rhetoric, he cowered. He seemed to forget that Saudi Arabia needs us more than we need it.

We live in an extremely dangerous world. There is no shortage of governments who want to take shots at the United States. Iran, North Korea, Russia, China and a number of other countries are not our allies and each has been known to give aid to terrorists. And while we have been able to clamp down on Iran and have decent trade pacts with China, neither of these countries would come to our aid.

The middle east is likely to remain unstable for years, if not decades, to come. Extremist groups in middle eastern and central Asia are not likely to be neutralized any time soon as can been seen in Afghanistan. But a more present danger lies in North Korea. The North Korean leader seems hell-bent on creating a war in his region. The peace that has been experienced on the Korean peninsula has been a tenuous one at best since 1953. One of our staunchest allies is South Korea but even with the tensions that exist there now, President Trump has not seen fit to schedule a visit. Why?

Not far from Korea is a long-time friend we are fast losing, the Philippines. I had the chance to talk to a well-educated Filipino recently and he informed me that even though his country has begged the United States for assistance militarily, none has been given. There is an insurgency in that country that if successful would put the Philippines at odds with U.S interests. My fear is that since the Philippines do not present the military or economic power to gain front page news, something negative will happen there if we do not treat them respectfully, recognize their difficulties and work with them for a resolution.

The Presidency is not place for amateurs and yet that is exactly what we have there now. He has surrounded himself with his billionaire friends who also have no government experience. The American people should consider this to be a most troubling of the Trump regime. Is difficult to navigate a mine field when you know what you are doing and impossible when you do not.


Peace in the Middle East

The largest part of the political dialogue today is over the containment and ultimate elimination of ISIS and other groups like ISIS. I find it scary to hear leading Republican candidates talking about carpet bombing and send large number of troops into the Middle East to resolve this problem. The Democrats seem to have a little more palatable response but still quite imperfect. Is there a perfect response? Yes, but no one knows what it is.

I think it high time we give both Afghanistan and Iraq a 30-day notice of complete removal of all our troops from their respective countries. The United States has overspent in both areas trying to bring about a peace which history shows has never existed for any extended length of time. The bottom line is, and contrary to what both major parties claim, our major interests in Iraq lie entire in its huge oil reserves and nothing else. That is simply irresponsible.

Now I am not suggesting we abandon these countries entirely, that is irresponsible. What I am suggesting is that we provide intelligence support, logistical support and air support. Both the government of Turkey and Saudi Arabia have allowed for our military presence within their boundaries and both countries are quite stable.

During last night’s Democrat debate, I heard exactly one suggestion on how to carry this war to a successful completion. It was that ground military forces fighting ISIS be made up entirely of Moslem troops. In this aspect the United States can play a key role. We can certainly train and arm such armies to a level where their success is at least likely if not probable.

The fly in the ointment is Iran. Claims have been made that Iran sponsors terrorism. President Obama has done a masterful job of getting Iran to open up its nuclear program to inspection. This has given the Middle East, and Israel in particular, a feeling of safety where nuclear arms are involved. In return, the United States has freed up here-to-fore frozen Iranian assets. I suggest that through diplomatic channels a deal can be made with Iran to further reduce existing sanctions by getting Iran to end any state sponsored terrorism which now exists. I think a partnership between Turkey and Iran could help in ending Iran’s isolation from the world by it gaining a powerful and trustworthy trading partner in the Moslem world which Turkey is.

Contrary to what many Americans believe, there are more peaceful countries in the Middle East than there are those suffering civil war and terror. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Iran, the Emirates, and Kuwait need to enter into a mutual defense coalition. Even though it is experiencing a great deal of unrest, Iraq too needs to be included. This coalition, like NATO, would help preserve the peace in the Middle East from those who would have it otherwise. I have left out Lebanon because it is fairly evenly split between Moslems and Christians, 54 to 46 respectively, and might prove unwise. That is unless the Christians of Lebanon thought it a good idea.

There is no question that many countries in the Middle East need military aid from the United States. The only question is, in what form? A unified Middle Eastern army made up entirely of Moslem soldiers make the most sense in ending the strife that region now endures. The United States will not be shirking its responsibilities to Middle Eastern countries by removing all our ground personnel from Iraq but maintaining military support through other means. Our removing ourselves may actually help bring about a regional peace much sooner than our staying there as we are.