Above: Perhaps Trump can be his own Secretary of Defense. (photoshop by author)
Presumably Fox News, which functions as the unofficial but influential Trump advisory board and seems to have a synaptic connection to the limbic system of Trump’s reptilian brain, has reported that the president’s top two choices to replace Gen. Mattis as Secretary of Defense are two people who share Mattis’ view on the critical areas which led to Mattis’ resignation. They are retired Army General Jack Keane* and Senator Tom Cotton.
In “Trump’s frontrunners for Pentagon job likely to share Mattis’ views on Syria, Afghanistan” Fox News reports that “neither candidate seems likely to embrace Trump’s “America First” foreign policy: Both came out against the withdrawal from Syria in strong terms. Trump’s appointment of either of them could pave the way toward a repeat of the same policy disagreements the president had with Mattis.”
Yesterday Keane told Fox News that “clearly, we’re repeating the Obama mistake of premature withdrawal, which got us ISIS.” Fox also reports that Last year Keane told Fox News that there needs to be between 10,000 to 20,000 additional troops in Afghanistan to win the war.
According to Politico Keane “also had harsh words for Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s deficit-minded budget director and acting White House chief of staff. ‘I think there’s a fox in the chicken coop, and that fox is the director of the OMB,’ Keane said.” Additionally, Keane has said he doesn’t want to return to public service.
Fox calls Sen. Tom Cotton even “more interventionist than Mattis” and notes that he “openly suggested potentially using military force or covert action to remove the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.” According to Fox: “Cotton also warned earlier this summer that a premature withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to negative effects on U.S. national security and to a resurgence of terrorist groups in the country.”
Keane and Cotton top Politico’s list of who they think may replace Mattis.
Lindsay Graham is third on the Politico list. He has been mentioned as angling for the job for some time. However, Political notes that he is “perhaps the Senate’s most vocal advocate for a muscular military posture and for U.S. intervention overseas, the South Carolina Republican was a protégé of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the late Senate Armed Services chairman and an outspoken Trump critic.” Graham said that “General Mattis…has been in the fight against radical Islam for decades and provided sound ethical military advice” an a tweet while in a separate statement said that U.S. withdrawals are “setting in motion the loss of all our gains and paving the way toward a second 9/11.”
Rounding out the Politico list are Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who has been a vocal booster within the Pentagon for Trump’s Space Force; former Republican Missouri Sen. Jim Talent’ and last former DNI director Dan Coats who is known for how he reacted to learning in front of an audience that Trump had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington by quipping to Andrea Mitchell “that’s going to be special.”
Dan Coats also said the following today:
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Friday that he was “deeply saddened” by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s announcement on Thursday that he plans to retire early next year. “The experience and sound judgement that Secretary Mattis has brought to our decision-making process is invaluable,” Coats said in a statement. “His leadership of our military won the admiration of our troops and respect of our allies and adversaries.” Politico
What this all seem to boils down to is that Trump is up the creek without a paddle when it comes to finding a replacement who will support his contradictory foreign policy which at once is “America first” which actually allows Putin VETO power. Perhaps he will cut to the chase and just appoint Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu.
On the other hand if he must find an American, he could end up picking another Fox News personality and select retired brigadier general and novelist Anthony Tata, who appeared Friday morning on Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata was on Fox and Friends supporting Trump’s decision on removing troops from Syria. Trump then Tweeted: “General Anthony Tata, author, ‘Dark Winter.’ I think the President is making the exact right move in Syria. All the geniuses who are protesting the withdrawal of troops from Syria are the same geniuses who cooked the books on ISIS intelligence and gave rise to ISIS.” From RawStory
Now that Trump may be getting military advice from Jared Kushner, perhaps he mght as well nominate him to be SecDef. After all, he already has a flax vest with his name on it.
Above, a photo that led to a bit of mockery, reported in The Daily News.
*Correction: In an early version of this story I refeered to Gen. Keane as Tom Keane. His name is John but usually goes by Jack.
(pictured below: Sen. Cotton, Gen. Keane, Gen. Shoygu).