Pompeo Does the Right Thing; Stands By Trump

Pompeo Does the Right Thing; Stands By Trump

Pompeo Does the Right Thing; Stands By Trump

With Gen. Mattis resigning and most politicians running from the announcement to pull out of Syria (and rumors of Afghanistan as well), things are looking pretty lonely up in D.C. for President Trump. Except for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is publically supporting the Syria withdrawal. The acts of both Mattis and Pompeo should be applauded.

Mad Dog Mattis is an every-man, and a well-liked, well-respected Marine. He’s humble but he has a back bone. Instinctively we all know he would never ask his troops to do something he was not willing to do himself. This is what makes him an inspiring leader. He’s been at it a long time, and he has certain ideas about national security.

Some have called his resignation letter blunt, and a complete repudiation of “Trumpism” but those critics have missed the boat. While the letter is plain spoken, there is little to detract from his classy exit. Too bad more officials are not as straightforward. He clearly laid out that he has different ideas about how to proceed on foreign policy than Trump, and therefore he must depart.

Mattis is right, Trump does deserve someone who will align with his goals, and then dutifully serve to carry out his intentions. Mattis judged he could not do that, so in the honorable way we have come to expect from him, he stepped down. He did not stay in the job seething or undermining the president, or leaking sensitive documents to make Trump look bad. And I am praying he doesn’t decide to go on a sleazy Trump-bashing book tour like so many others.

Of course, the media is trying to squeeze as much rancor out of the situation as possible, but the relationship between Mattis and Trump IS a grownup one. They hashed it out, came to an impasse, and Mattis did the right thing – for his own conscience. Trump respects him and honored him with a snark-free laudatory tweet. Trump doesn’t need “yes men.” He needs people to treat him fairly, and when that happens he returns the favor.

Trump and Mattis disagree about the way froward from here, as do many others. When Obama pulled out of Iraq, there were many crucial things left undone. This exit from Syria is a different situation. While the risk of ISIS or other terrorist groups reestablishing  themselves is always present, it cannot be ignored that the US desperately needs to rethink long term policy. Changing up from the status quo needs to be done. Besides, this can’t be a surprise. Trump ran on this very issue.

While Mattis did the right thing for his conscience, he may not have done a great thing for the country. The Left has convincingly demonstrated that they will not be reasonable, and so anything that looks like more chaos does not help America. It’s particularly ironic when the situation is that a president wants to bring troops home and the defense leadership is opposed. Trump has successfully made the Left look like they are the warmongers! If Trump was agitating to go to war and the SecDef resigned out of protest, then we’d really have something to talk about. This withdrawal is quite different from that scenario. The SecDef advises, but does not make the national policy. The president is accountable to the voters on that, not the secretary.

If ISIS reemerges, or our allies are in danger, then Trump will be on the hot seat – but it won’t be because of bringing the troops home from Syria – it will be for what he decides to do with that situation. That’s the bargain he is making right now, and doing a good job of clarifying what lines are drawn, and what we should consider successful missions.

Multiple armed conflicts are going on all around the globe at any moment, so that alone does not justify the U.S. intervening. There must be something more, and right now, Trump has decided that those reasons in Syria are largely diminished. He shows he’s a pragmatist with every move he makes. This has been hard for a lot of people who want to put him in a box to comprehend. (The only box they can think of is “crazy” but that just goes to show that they understand nothing aside from partisanship). Mattis may have a broader perspective on history, but it can’t be denied that clear benchmarks for entering into combat actions and exiting them need to be envisioned and implemented. Mattis may no longer be the right man for the job.

Here is where Pompeo has also done the right thing. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has come out in support of Trump’s exit from Syria. He reportedly disagrees with the action, in private. This is also how these things should work. If a person agrees to work for Trump, it is no secret how he will come down on many issues. For goodness sake, we have his twitter feed! Trump is not that much of a mystery. It is just shocking us so much to see a person keep campaign promises, that apparently we are wondering if we are in the twilight zone. No, we are in the Trump Zone. Otherwise known as the Git ‘er Done Zone.

Pompeo is taking an unfair beating for this public support.

“Pompeo publicly parrots whatever he thinks the president wants him to say, and foreign leaders have a very tough time putting themselves next to a parrot that is trumpeting ‘America First’,” said Brett Bruen, a former State Department official who now serves as president of the Global Situation Room, a crisis management consulting firm. “And there’s no proof that any private reassurances, if in fact, Pompeo is offering them, can be taken to the bank.”

Former CIA Director John Brennan went even further. “Now we’re left with people who are yes men, whether it be a Mike Pompeo or John Bolton or others,” Brennan said on MSNBC, naming the national security adviser alongside the secretary of State. “These are individuals who have not demonstrated any backbone and spine in terms of standing up.”

These people have no respect for or understanding of the chain of command, and for that, their own credibility crumbles. (Brennan, for his part, is doing immeasurable damage to America’s ability to unify). The only two honorable moves to be made here are the one made by Mattis, and the one made by Pompeo. If a person can’t find it in his conscience to support the order of his boss, get out of the way so the leader can execute his plan. Once it is clear the leader has made his decision, execute the plan! Presenting a united front is necessary for the success of the plan. Mattis demonstrates to his core that he understands this.

The Left wants to convince the populace that Trump is unhinged and so no plan that he has should be supported at any time. But the plan to pull out of Syria, and possibly Afghanistan, is not unhinged. It could falter and it could fail. And it could also set the U.S. on a new trajectory toward a previously unimagined path to reducing violence and a need for military force (maintaining a show of military force should never be abandoned however). It should not be beyond the pale to say that the U.S. could use some new moves. Even though it’s satire, it could be real; Babylon Bee summed up the status quo pretty well:

After Trump announced that US troops would be pulled out of Syria, the President was quickly criticized by leaders on both the left and the right for breaking with the longstanding American tradition of remaining in Middle Eastern countries indefinitely.

Trump drew ire from both sides of the aisle for his “careless and reckless” disregard for the beloved American custom of meddling overseas without a congressional declaration of war and then hanging around for another few decades.

“Occupying a country on the other side of the globe and staying there forever is an American pastime,” said a CNN host. “For Trump to pull out when we haven’t even been there a decade yet is a disgusting display of his selfishness and unwillingness to conform to the standards of presidential decorum.”

The Bee is spot on here. The facts are that we have been in a fighting mode in the middle east for far too long. It is unlikely that we have the gravitas to push peace over the finish line.  We certainly need to recognize peoples’ own right to self-determination, but we cannot provide it for them. For the middle east to be set on the right path, middle easterners have to do it. We shouldn’t turn our backs, but they need to do the work.

Mattis is doing what he needs to do to sleep at night, and Pompeo is doing what he needs to do so we can sleep at night. Both are great Americans.

Featured photo: US State Dept.

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