In the month following his surprise victory in the early morning hours of November 9, President-elect Donald J. Trump has appointed a retired three-star Army general as his national security adviser, a retired four-star Marine Corps general as his defense secretary and another retired Marine Corps four-star general to run the Department of Homeland Security. There remains the distinct possibility that a four-star admiral (James Stavridis) or a four-star Army general (David Petraeus) will be tapped to run the State Department.
At this rate, it isn’t much of an exaggeration to say that Trump’s government is shaping up to be one of the generals, by the generals, and for the generals.
These appointments are taking place just prior to the adjournment of the 114th Congress, during which time the House and Senate have passed numerous pieces of legislation with the ostensible purpose of strengthening US national security.
Over the past month, the House has passed the Orwellian-sounding Caesar Civilian Protection Act, which would lay the groundwork for further US military operations in Syria; both houses of Congress have passed legislation mandating the extension of sanctions against Iran by 10 years; and on Thursday the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, which increases defense spending by $3.2 billion (the House passed the bill last week by a veto-proof majority of 375 to 34).
Embedded within the $619 billion defense bill is, among many other things, a prohibition “against transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay to the United States and building or modifying facilities in the United States for housing detainees.”
The bill also provides funding for “the President’s request to train and equip appropriately-vetted, moderate [sic] Syrian forces,” and, more alarmingly, does not include a prohibition on the transfer of man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) to the Syrian jihadi-rebels, which had been sponsored by House Democrat John Conyers.