1. Too Much Military Strategy, Too Little Diplomacy.
All these candidates have a long history of military experience. But none have the foreign policy backgrounded needed to navigate the host of diplomatic challenges they will inevitably encounter in office. This could mean that, when faced with tough decisions, their instincts may lean towards picking a military option over a diplomatic one. It’s also been shown that military brass are more likely to favor higher escalation of force during during conflict. Each of Trump’s Generals have been praised for their hawkishness and service as top-notch warriors. And, as Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) put it: “What we’ve learned over the past 15 years is that when we view problems in the world through a military lens, we make big mistakes.”
2. Generals Make Strong Commanders, Not Good Managers.
All of Trump’s generals have proven that they have the strategic vision to lead troops in combat. But war fighters rarely share the same characteristics with good bureaucrats — and the U.S. intelligence community is one of the U.S.’s largest bureaucracies. To succeed, its leaders must manage millions of employees, deal with piles of paperwork, and have a track record of patience, management, and administration. And so far, those don’t seem to be leading qualities of any of Trump’s picks.
3. Historically, authoritarian states have higher concentrations of military officers in top cabinet positions than democracies.
As intended by our forefathers, the U.S. has traditionally maintained a clear separation between the military and the rest of civilian government. But by placing four or five military officials in high positions of power, as Trump intends to do, Trump would be making the U.S. government look more and more like the authoritarian regimes of states like Zimbabwe and Thailand, which rely heavily on military strongmen at the exclusion of democratic leadership. That’s a dangerous direction for Trump to lead us in.
Were Trump known for his pragmatism and experience on foreign policy, his affinity for the military brass may be less alarming. But he’s not. Trump’s drawn to the generals for all the wrong reasons. He’s drawn to these men not for their strategic vision or qualifications, but because he loves “tough guys” who win and is fascinated by “a certain Hollywood version of a World War II general” that saw growing up. That’s no way to run a country.