There are as many words for green in the Irish language as reasons President Donald Trump does not deserve a second term. Foremost to me, as an appointee of his administration, are his weak security policies.
Trump voters are patriots who oppose our adversaries and support our military. They might ask whether they made a good-faith mistake four years ago. To take one example, look at our failed, schizophrenic North Korea policy.
Trump first threatened Pyongyang with the “fire and fury” of nuclear war. Then, he nearly began a Second Korean War accidentally, with a tweet, a war Trump admits could kill millions, including in this country.
Next, without informing our State Department, Trump announced a summit with North Korea’s communist dictator. Kim Jong Un, the world’s worst human rights violator, runs murderous Stalinist gulags and bans all religion.
America has been at war with North Korea since Kim’s grandfather invaded our ally South Korea in 1950. We suffered 133,409 U.S. casualties, including 41,275 dead, and American prisoners of war were brutally tortured.
North Korea still captures and kills Americans now and again. They seized USS Pueblo’s crew in 1968, and hold that ship as a war prize; killed 31 sailors and Marines when they shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane in 1969; and ax-murdered two U.S. Army officers in 1976.
After slobbering over this anti-American, Christian-persecuting despot in Singapore, Vietnam and Korea, Trump claimed he was “in love” with Kim. Bob Woodward’s recordings of his conversations with Trump show that he fawned over Kim, and ate up Kim’s clearly manipulative, transparent efforts to please him. He then fulfilled Kim’s dearest wishes: he canceled U.S.-South Korean military exercises, and plans unilateral withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country, despite our 29,000 GIs there being outnumbered by the North’s 7.7 million-man army.
The supposed master of the “art of the deal” did all this in return for zero concessions. Meanwhile, even the United Nations admits Kim continues to develop nuclear missiles to hit our country, while we do bupkis to improve our missile defenses. Trump muzzled our intelligence community on the issue, and promised to cease intelligence operations that prove him wrong.
This is consonant with Trump’s threats to abrogate treaty commitments to South Korea and neighboring Japan: He’d leave Red China to dominate Asia, ending America’s role as a beneficent superpower. Trump does this because he is obsessed with the comparatively small financial cost of our security commitment to northeast Asia, which is indemnified by our allies.
These missteps are of a piece with Trump’s Charmin-soft defense policies. For example, he claims he increased military spending, and gave our troops unprecedented pay raises.
In fact, this year’s defense budget is over a third smaller than Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush’s top budgets as a percentage of gross domestic product: 2.9% versus 4.6% by his predecessors.
While service members are not in it for the money, Trump’s biggest annual military pay raise, of 3.1%, is dwarfed by those given by Bush (6.9%), much less Ronald Reagan (14.3%).
Assume Trump is right: His reported statements about our military being losers and suckers (and dopes, babies and pussies) aside, increases in soldiers’ pay indicate how much he cares for them. By his own metric, Trump cares half as much as “W” and one-fifth as much as the Gipper.
Why does Trump suck up to evil communists such as Kim, as well as Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin? Why does he allegedly mock service members, while treating them like chumps who cannot do basic math? Why does he say that avoiding venereal disease in 1970s discos was his equivalent of Vietnam combat — after allegedly procuring a fake doctor’s note to avoid the draft?
Only a good psychiatrist, or a wise priest, could say. What we can say for sure is, these are not the actions or statements of a good Republican president such as, say, Dwight Eisenhower.
Trump voters care about this country. Many had legitimate complaints about Obama administration security policies, or concerns about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
But the right answer to Democratic mistakes is not four more years of gross errors such as our policy towards Korea. Neither is it “defunding” of our military, nor the mockery of its service members.
Trump does long-term harm to American interests and institutions. A second term’s damage might be irreparable. That is why, as a former member of his administration, I’ll vote for Joe Biden.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Kevin Carroll served as senior counselor to the secretary of Homeland Security (2017-18) and senior counsel to House Homeland Security (2011-13). He was also a CIA and Army officer, including in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. He is a member of the Republicans and Independents for Biden coalition, an affiliate of the Lincoln Project.
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