We are fully into amateur hour in the White House now, so it is time to start calculating the cost of non-politicians playing at leadership.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you already are aware that President Trump has been making some very major mistakes. Offering highly sensitive intelligence that our nation doesn’t share with our allies is not only amateurish, it is dangerous. The allusions to “measuring up” based on hand size during the presidential primary were amusing, but now it seems that Trump is engaging in that same kind of behavior in the Oval Office.
Bragging about intelligence materials and sources with representatives and leaders of foreign powers present is exactly what the American people should expect from Trump, because he is not a career politician. Of course, many in the media are mostly concerned with finger-pointing, and figuring out exactly what information was compromised – both at least semi-laudable missions, but neither truly address the real problem we’re facing as a nation. Those in the media and politics who are seeking to minimize the situation are probably doing the most harm.
While the desire to see radical change in Washington that ushered Trump into office is completely understandable, it’s an idealistic notion that never should have been considered seriously. The reason for that is becoming clear on a daily basis, as headlines are full of missteps made by the Trump administration. The hypocrisy is reaching flood stage, as the president continually is doing things that he previously scolded career politicians for doing on a smaller scale. Trump promised “Yuge!” on the campaign trail, and just this latest issue with sharing sensitive information with Russia is bigger than all of the mishandling of secret information he lambasted Hillary Clinton for doing. Even millions of emails that “might” or “could” have been compromised do not reach the magnitude of damage that Trump has done with some simple bragging about secret sources in the Oval Office.
That simple action will lead to increased problems in gathering information for the foreseeable future, period.
Trump, with one unguarded communication with the Russian Ambassador, started a ripple-effect that will result in lost sources, casualties and death. Minimizing the fact that this moment of bragging will have a body count – most likely including US military and possibly US civilians – is unconscionable. What is being said here will not be mentioned often by the media or politicians, except as a footnote – “yes, this could cause major problems going forward, but we need to focus on…”
The 2016 presidential campaign was all about emotions, to the point where reason and logic were completely thrown aside. It’s a stretch to say that voters were left with a “lesser of two evils” choice, since both candidates had serious deficiencies that under other circumstances, should have left them on the pile of candidates defeated in the primary. While Trump has tried to make good on at least some of his campaign promises, the fact is that he truly had no idea what he was getting himself into when he took his current job. Unfortunately, there is no room for a learning curve.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first damage that Trump has caused to our intelligence gathering operations in the Middle East, AfPak and North Africa regions. The travel ban that he is continuing to fight in court to instate also will cause incalculable damage to the US intelligence operations in those regions, as well as make it more difficult for our military to employ locals as translators and informants. In that region, money is not the draw for locals – the possibility of escape to the US is. Trump is sending a very clear message that he doesn’t want people from those nations here, and that will have dire consequences on the field of battle.
Obviously, CIA assets and agents could be in danger thanks to the president speaking so freely with Russia, but this action will also mean that our allies will be more cautious about sharing intelligence with us now. What was already less-than-open communication will undoubtedly become more difficult. This is exacerbated by the incessant tweeting by the president, that often is in conflict with “official” comments from his aides, advisers, and staff. This laissez-faire method of communication might work fine in the world of real estate and reality television, but it is troubling from the White House. The loss in confidence in this administration – and by extension, our government, military, and intelligence agencies – will be a devastating part of the ripple effect that has been building from nearly day one of this presidency.
It takes a special kind of person to run for public office, and be a leader of a nation. Unfortunately, we did not have that kind of person on the ballot in November of last year. The only question now is whether or not we will weather the storm that the populist voters have brought on us now.