Banning interpreters who served with our armed forces in Iraq from entering the United States, as part of a political attack on selected groups of Muslims. Kicking the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff out of meetings of the Principals’ Committee—the senior foreign-policy decision-making group below the president. A visit to the CIA that dishonored the agency’s monument to the anonymous heroes who paid the ultimate price. Extraordinary attacks on a free press. Needlessly antagonizing our neighbor to the south.
A lot has happened in the little time since Trump took office. But we should not be surprised: Trump is doing exactly what he said he’d do on the campaign trail.
So writes Eliot Cohen, the director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (and a former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, as well as the author of a book on military power) in this essay in The Atlantic.
Cohen also deals with the dilemma faced by thoughtful conservatives who are considering the idea of joining the Trump administration. Cohen writes: “To friends still thinking of serving as political appointees in this administration, beware: When you sell your soul to the Devil, he prefers to collect his purchase on the installment plan. Trump’s disregard for either Secretary of Defense Mattis or Secretary-designate Tillerson in his disastrous policy salvos this week, in favor of his White House advisers, tells you all you need to know about who is really in charge.”
Cohen goes on to say: “For the community of conservative thinkers and experts, and more importantly, conservative politicians, this is a testing time. Either you stand up for your principles and for what you know is decent behavior, or you go down, if not now, then years from now, as a coward or opportunist…”
“Rifts are opening up among friends that will not be healed. The conservative movement of Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp, of William F. Buckley and Irving Kristol, was always heterogeneous, but it more or less hung together. No more … For many more it will be a split between those obsessed with anxiety, hatred, and resentment, and those who can hear Lincoln’s call to the better angels of our nature…”
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