The Professor thought teaching political science at the honors level in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration is more demanding than I remember at any period in the past. Foreign policy, military operations, domestic legislative crisis with healthcare and tax reform. Now we have critics clamoring for more information regarding the President’s plans and intentions in Syria, North Korea and Afghanistan. In addition, the political talking heads are ranting about control of information in the White House. They are all showing they know not what they are mumbling about. But I must write a short note to my students. It will be three days before the next class.
Not to worry class this is only a few thoughts on the by-play of people who should know better. Recently former officials and socialist critics of the current Administration have been raving about the need to have one person in charge of information in the White House. Unless they mean the President and, they don’t, this is an exceedingly dumb and dangerous idea. President Trump maintains personal contact with the outside world, both foreign and domestic, better than any other president in my life time. The office of the President can be and very often is a very isolated position. While it may be difficult to get to the President, it is hard for him to develop and maintain multiple points of access.
If one person controls information flow in the White House, he or she can control the President and have an undue influence on presidential actions. The gate-keeper of the Oval Office can be a very powerful position. So, when you find yourself as a player in presidential politics in a few years, resist the efforts of the former players to control the flow of information in the White House. If the people have elected the right person, that person will be in charge.
My second concern is also directly related to information flow. The President’s opponents in both parties believe they are entitled to a complete plan on everything he has done or is planning to do. ‘Why doesn’t he give us his complete plans for dealing with North Korea, Syria, Russia and others? We in Congress or in the party of opposition deserve to know. It is our right!
No! It isn’t. You do not have the right. Only those with a legal need-to-know the information on a case-by-case basis have that right. While Obama ranted on about his military and foreign policy objectives, he never seemed to realize, or more likely to care, that you cannot tell most of the nation without telling the enemy in the process. For example, a far left socialist Senator demanded to know what foreign policy objective the President was trying to achieve with the cruise missile attack on a Syrian military airfield. How about the message, ‘if you use chemical weapons, again bad things will happen to you?’ Or to ISIS and the Taliban in Afghanistan. ‘You are no longer safe in caves or tunnels.’ Talking heads, journalist, media anchors on the left and right, senators and congressmen, repress your constant whining about being briefed in greater detail. It won’t make you any smarter or help you serve the people. The only measurable result will be giving our enemies a better chance of getting our secrets.
What’s is wrong with short policy statements like destroying ISIS, stopping North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons they can deliver to America, pushing NATO members to pay their obligated military investments, reduce funding to the UN, protect our borders, renew our traditional relationships with Sunni Arabs, standby Israel, pressure Russia to stop its aggressive acquisition of territory from other sovereign nations, and get better foreign trade deals?
What was the George Kennan policy during the Cold War? A single word, Containment. How, is what was done in secret with a strict need-to-know.