We need to ask our allies to stand with us. We need to threaten other nations rarely ... and then only in private.
THE president under the Constitution is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. He has directive authority over the national law enforcement agencies and our foreign intelligence collection efforts. Unfortunately, our president is making statements and taking actions that undermine the security of the United States. U.S. national security and the power of our economy are not the bleak picture drawn by the president in his inauguration address.
We must remember that we cannot defend America without close cooperation with the European Union. We cannot violate American values by calling for torture of detainees. We cannot disparage the 122 million people of Mexico who are so crucial to our economy and our culture. And our national security strategy must be executed in a thoughtful and deliberate manner involving the relevant executive departments (Defense, State, Treasury, Homeland Security, Energy, Justice and the CIA). The authority of Congress under Article I of the Constitution must be respected.
Despite what President Donald Trump has said, in many ways, the United States has never been more secure in our history. We do not live on the precipice of nuclear Armageddon with the former Soviet Union. The 2.2 million men and women of the globally-deployed, battle-hardened U.S. Armed Forces have no credible threat to our core national security interests. Our national survival is not fundamentally at risk for the coming decade because of the massive power of our military.
Our real security is the creativity and unity of the American people and the cooperation of our Allies. We benefit from the central importance of NATO and our close security ties with Japan, South Korea and Australia. The U.S. is the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind. Notwithstanding our flaws and historical mistakes, we are an aspirational beacon of hope and opportunity to the world. Our power fundamentally rests on our participatory democracy, the rule of law, our immigrant culture and a competitive and free economy.
There are significant security concerns that should worry us. Sequestration by Congress of the federal budget puts the dead hand of stupidity on funding for both military and domestic programs. The short-term readiness, training and maintenance of our Armed Forces is abysmal. International terrorism from 61 foreign groups is a major threat to Europe, the entire Middle East, and less so the U.S. and Canada. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemicals, bio agents and cybersecurity) are low-cost and low-technology barrier weapons, some of which are available to second-tier adversaries as well as nonstate actors.
A nuclear-armed Iran and a rogue North Korea are clearly the most serious near-term threat. Sadly, we have seen the re-emergence of Russia under Vladimir Putin as a threat to Europe. We must also deal with the growing belligerence of Chinese naval and air power as a strategic threat to U.S. and Allied interests on the Pacific Rim.
We are fortunate to have extremely capable national, state and local law-enforcement agencies (FBI; Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Marshals Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Coast Guard) that have developed cooperative ways to confront domestic terrorist threats while maintaining respect for the rule of law.
Millions of legal as well as undocumented foreign born families live within our borders in a lawful manner while adding to the economic vitality and energy of America. They need to be legally integrated into American life. We also must improve the capability to control our air, sea and land borders while allowing rapid entry through ports-of-entry to properly screened visitors.
We are fortunate that our new Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, is a stable, disciplined, combat-experienced Marine. He is also a national security intellectual. He will not violate the rule of law or put our military at risk with an unsound or impulsive strategy. The new CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, has experience, brains and a public commitment to being guided by congressional restrictions. The Homeland Security Director, John Kelly, is one of the finest public servants I have ever met. The new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is enormously experienced at dealing with the global community. All these officials will have an ear to the eventual judgment of history.
We can only hope that President Trump listens, learns and slows down. We need to ask our allies to stand with us. We need to threaten other nations rarely … and then only in private. We cannot bluff with U.S. military power. If we take a stand then we must act.
This means the president must be deliberate and evaluate risks before acting on national-security issues. We need his cautious and sound good judgment.