The retired generals picked to staff US President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet really believe that Iran and radical Islam are enormous dangers to America and the world.
They believe that terrorism is a clear and present danger, not an existential threat as suggested by President Obama’s administration.
This sort of good vs evil approach to the world could be a problem. Generals Michael Flynn, James Mattis and John Kelly may view everything as a contest between angelic America and malign Others.
As Professor Stephen Biddle of George Washington University recently said, the military tends to be “very threat-focused in relation to civilians…and to see that threat in more apocalyptic terms.”
For instance, as General Flynn wrote in his recent book ‘The Field of Fight’: “We’re in a world war, but very few Americans recognize it, and fewer still have any idea how to win it.” And on Twitter: “Fear of Muslims is rational.”
Put the two statements together and what do you get?
Generals Mattis and Kelly are particularly worried about Iran, with the former criticizing the Obama administration for being too passive about Iranian aggression and fostering “the impression in the region that the US was withdrawing.” In April, General Mattis said the Iran deal was one that was “drawn up with the expectation that Iran will cheat…(there may be) a fight at some point in the future…We’re going to have to plan for the worst.”
This is not necessarily a sign that Mr Trump’s Generals will lead the US into many more wars, but that a militaristic approach has its own limitations. Everything is seen as a fight.