Duty Vice Desire
Duty Vice Desire
When President Trump was first elected, as you can imagine, there were a lot of disappointed government bureaucrats in DC. Some of the meetings I was forced to attend back then resembled rather dull wakes. Everyone was shocked and despondent. You could tell who actually voted for Trump by their very silent demeanors. They weren’t the ones bitching loudly. They were the ones going about their business and doing their jobs.
I had a young employee in my department who was in the process of joining the military as an officer. I wrote her recommendation for the program. I was very proud of her for wanting to serve her nation.
After the election, she came to me with doubts. She didn’t want to serve in the military under that Commander-in-Chief – as a woman and as someone who leaned slightly left.
I told her to suck it up. She wasn’t joining to serve Trump. She was joining to serve her country – and if she truly believed he was as awful as they said, her country would need her and those like her to step up more than ever. I told her to remember her oath was to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to genuflect in front of Trump.
Today she is proudly serving in the Navy.
Another friend of mine went full pussy hat-wearing potato after he was elected. She resigned her commission as an officer in the US Army, and she decided to go back to school to study some social justice garbage. She resigned her national security government job and claimed she had PTSD.
Yeah, I was happy that one left the military. She had no sense of duty or honor.
There were quite a few who left my agency over the past year and a half. Some left for the private sector, some left for higher salaries and family reasons, and quite a few left because they felt that even though they did their jobs objectively and to the best of their abilities, this administration didn’t want to hear anything that didn’t match its preconceived notions, be it about Russia or Iran or any other topic.
I get it. You work your ass off and provide the best assessments, analysis, and information you possibly can, because you care about this country’s security, and you get either ignored or denigrated as the “deep state,” or worse as traitors for your trouble. It sucks.
All that said, I was incredibly impressed with the statement of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats after Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the subsequent disastrous press conference where he managed to cast doubt on his intelligence community and imply that Putin was somehow trustworthy.
The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the President and policymakers. We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.
The meaning is clear: the intelligence community will continue to do its job, regardless of the President’s words.
Recently, some have suggested that US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman resign his post in light of Trump’s statements. “You work for a pawn, not a president,” wrote the Salt Lake Tribune’s Robert Gehrke.
As Utahns, many of us were a bit stunned last year when you accepted the job as U.S. ambassador to Russia, but your explanation made sense: It was a role you took on, much like your tenure in China, out of a deep sense of duty.
But that duty is to your country and the best way now to serve your country is not by holding on to some title and being the emissary of a president who doesn’t share your values, or American values, for that matter.
It’s by resigning immediately and speaking out against a president who attacks our allies, gives comfort to our adversaries and undermines our moral standing, our commitment to democratic ideals and our interest in human rights every time he opens his gaping mouth.
Charming, isn’t it?
We hate the President, so you should resign in protest. RESIST!
Luckily for us and the country, this season, a professional foreign service officer laughed at the thought.
In an op-ed posted Saturday night in The Salt Lake Tribune, which his brother owns and publishes, the former Utah governor emphasized that his diplomatic staff was too focused on issues like nuclear weapons, Ukraine and Syria “to obsess over politics.”
“I have taken an unscientific survey among my colleagues … about whether I should resign,” he added. “The laughter told me everything I needed to know.”
His message was also clear: I will do my job. I serve my nation. This isn’t about me, nor is it about my staff. It is about our country, which we will serve to the best of our ability.
I will admit I didn’t support Ambassador Huntsman when he ran for President. He was a bit too liberal for my taste. But I do support him as the Ambassador to Russia – especially during a dangerous, uncertain time such as this, when a resurgent Russia is actively threatening its neighbors and taking steps to rearm and modernize its military to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
It is precisely now that we need an honorable, experienced, knowledgeable statesman in Moscow, and not a “yes man.” It is precisely now that we need to put ego aside and focus on what’s good for the country.
I was surprised to learn this weekend that one of my favorite Congressmen – Trey Gowdy – suggested that Trump’s aides and advisors need to reevaluate their service to him after the shit show of a presser with Putin and subsequent remarks about Russia no longer targeting the US, despite the best assessments provided by his intelligence professionals.
“The president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to re-evaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration,” Gowdy said on Fox News Sunday, referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley. “But the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming and the president needs to say that and act like it.”
I like Trey Gowdy very much. I’m a fan of every video that shows him eviscerating some lying liberal (but I repeat myself) during a hearing, and I imagine there are few in Washington who love the law as much as he does.
But he is dead wrong about this.
It is precisely when we feel the country is in trouble that we should put our personal feelings and egos aside and focus on what is good for the nation. The people who work in our intelligence community and on the National Security Council are the best and brightest. They are the most knowledgeable and informed professionals we have, and without their knowledge and experience we would be lost.
The nation needs these savvy, competent veterans to do their jobs. Their knowledge may be falling on deaf ears in briefings. Their policy makers may disagree with their assessments. They may get angry, because the briefing they’re getting doesn’t conform to their preconceived notions. These advisors may feel underappreciated, and they may believe that their efforts are futile.
But their job is to inform. Their job is to give the President and other policy makers the best possible advice and analysis possible. It’s a thankless job, and there will be times when the President and other leaders will not heed their advice. But they have to carry on. Give their best advice and continue giving it, even if it falls on deaf ears.
When it comes to America, duty should always trump personal desire.