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Former State Dept. Adviser Eliot Cohen Talks White House Generals47:41Download

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Foreign policy neo-con Eliot Cohen on the Trump administration, generals in the White House, and the US abroad.

In this July 31, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump talks with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly after he was privately sworn in during a ceremony in the Oval Office. (Evan Vucci/AP)
In this July 31, 2017 photo, President Donald Trump talks with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly after he was privately sworn in during a ceremony in the Oval Office. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US foreign policy and standing in the world are facing plenty more challenges than the alarming challenge of North Korean nukes. ISIS, war in Afghanistan, uncertain allies, a powerful China, a meddling Russia – all threaten. Foreign policy hawk Eliot Cohen is watching. He was there in the push for the Iraq War. There in opposition to candidate Donald Trump – the kind of interventionist Trump slammed. Now he sees too many generals in the White House. Up next On Point: Eliot Cohen on Donald Trump and America in the world. --Tom Ashbrook.

Guests

Tara Palmeri, White House Reporter for Politico. (@tarapalmeri)

Eliot Cohen, Professor at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, where he also directs the strategic studies program. Former Counselor to the Department of State. Author of, "The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force."  (@EliotACohen)

From Tom's Reading List

The Atlantic: The Downsides of John Kelly's Ascension — "Kelly’s decision to take the job lends itself to multiple explanations. It may be an irresistible call to duty by someone who thinks of the president mainly as commander-in-chief; it may be an act of deep, quiet patriotism by someone who intends to shield the country from Trump’s lawless worst; it may reflect personal ambition, or mere hankering for as difficult a management challenge as one could imagine; or it may reflect a sneaking admiration for the boorish businessman who has successfully slapped around the politicians of left and right that many officers, and Marines in particular, despise as cowardly and corrupt. Kelly once handed a ceremonial saber to the President while unfunnily suggesting that he use it on the press."

Politico: Kelly trades West Wing neophytes for Washington insiders— "For the new hires, the retired general is looking to seasoned political hands rather than the neophytes who made up the first wave of aides brought in by Trump, many of whom never had clear portfolios, according to eight current and former White House officials."

Newsweek: Trump's Generals Can Save The World From War — And Stop The Crazy — "All U.S. military officers serve at the pleasure of the president. The same holds true for Mattis, McMaster and Kelly—so at any time, Trump could tell them their services are no longer required, and each would take his leave. But in this White House, the relationship between the president and “his” generals may be more nuanced. The president has no prior experience in politics or national security. Combine that with the widespread respect all three generals bring with them, not to mention their reputations for seriousness and intelligence, and it means they possess something that Donald Trump the dealmaker understands well: leverage—leverage over him."

This program aired on September 7, 2017.

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