Near-daily gossip surrounds
The media sometimes blare out rumors that
Secretary of Defense Gen.
Of course, few
But the problem with all these rumors of departing generals is not just that they are likely false and shopworn. They also make no sense because the three generals have been radically successful. In just a year, they have markedly enhanced
The media, which is mostly anti-Trump, has always been schizophrenic in the coverage of the three generals. Some media outlets initially echoed old worries about too many Pentagon tentacles or the militarization of the executive branch. They forgot that generals, both active and retired, have long held administration jobs. Gen.
Others in the media had hoped that the mostly apolitical generals would nudge the wild-card Trump left of center and embed him within the
But now, most journalists seem baffled that the generals are either proving too conservative or not standing up to Trump enough -- as if playing the role of the loud maverick to a president had been in the job description of any
By late 2016, strategic deterrence had mostly been lost due to the prior administration's failed Russian reset; unchecked Chinese ascendance; a comatose approach to North Korean nuclear enhancements; the
In reaction to these growing threats, our friends have been reassured, enemies have been warned, and stability is returning.
Trump's improving poll numbers reflect the order that Kelly established out of chaos in the West Wing. In delusional fashion, the media had hoped that a four-star Marine general might be a liberal wolf in conservative sheep's clothing -- so it's easy to understand why the number of Kelly's media critics has grown.
Kelly is a no-nonsense traditionalist and serves Trump not just by improving the mechanics of day-to-day operations in the
Mattis and McMaster are said to play good cops abroad to Trump's bad cop. By warning that the alternative to negotiations is a raging Trump who might do anything, the two generals are purportedly leveraging everything from delinquent
The problem with that scenario is not that it is absolutely false, but that the stereotype is exaggerated and simplistic. After all, it is difficult to see where Mattis and McMaster have disagreed with Trump -- or, for that matter, with the American people -- on existential issues.
Who wishes to return to Obama's principles of "strategic patience" and "lead from behind"? Do critics want more of the massive
The real challenge for the generals has been how to warn enemies and reassure friends that past global provocations against
So far, Kelly, Mattis and McMaster -- along with Ambassador to the
When they go abroad, their wide portfolios and latitude are signaling that they are in charge not despite but rather because of Trump.
To reverse the purported quip of