Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Secretary of Defense Jim Webb? | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on January 4, 2019

Likely our best chance to turn the War Department to a Defense Department.


The Democrat and scourge of foreign wars is drawing praise from many Trump supporters.

Jim Webb—the former Virginia senator, Ronald Reagan Navy secretary, and brief but memorable 2016 Democratic presidential candidate—addressed The American Conservative’s foreign policy conference in November 2016, immediately following Donald Trump’s shock White House victory.

He recalled what a friend and fellow Marine told him about Trump: “He said: ‘This guy Donald Trump. The Republicans hate him. The Democrats hate him. The media hates him. I think I found my guy.’”…

In the days following Trump’s victory, some called for Webb to take the reins at the Pentagon.

“The key for Trump will be to figure out a way to keep his coalition of supporters content,” wrote popular conservative columnist Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, advocating for Webb. “One sector of that coalition is the one that includes those who were attracted to what they believed his foreign policy to be—restraint about when and where the United States fights wars coupled with a clear path to victory when we do.” In introducing Webb before his 2016 address, TAC’s own Bill Kauffman made the same suggestion.

Now, with James Mattis having left the Pentagon, that call is sounding again. “Former Navy Secretary and former Asst Sec Def @JimWebbUSA would be someone to consider seriously for SecDef. His foreign policy views line up better with @realdonaldtrump and are not Bush 3.0,” Fox News’s Laura Ingraham tweeted. Ingraham, two sources familiar with the matter tell me, is close to Gods & Generals director Ron Maxwell, who is said to be quietly pushing behind the scenes on Webb’s behalf. And Ingraham, along with Tucker Carlson, also a friend of foreign policy restraint, form the tip of the spear of the new regime at Fox News, which, of course, has the ear of the president.

Primetime Fox—Ingraham, Carlson, and Sean Hannity—has been been far more likely to defend the president’s foreign policy courses than Fox’s more establishment-oriented daytime programming. So while Fox & Friends was castigating Trump over the Syria withdrawal, Carlson and Ingraham were just as bellicosely defending him. The war for the president’s mind is very real, and the fact that Ingraham and possibly Carlson are advocating for Webb makes him a major player…

If Trump wants to push U.S. foreign policy in a fresh direction—and many, including his administration’s until-recently go-to think tank on Iran, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, are clearly worried he means business—he’ll need ideological compatriots at the highest levels, heading Defense and perhaps the National Security Council. Doug Bandow in TAC urges Webb and retired Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who’s been considered by the administration before, to NSC.

Webb, like Trump, has been deeply critical of the past two presidents on foreign policy. He asked in 2016: “How could one Republican presidential administration have made such an incredible strategic blunder as the invasion and occupation of Iraq, only to see the next Democratic administration make an equally strategic blunder—at least as bad, and possibly worse—by initiating what was called ‘the Arab Spring?’”

Importantly, Webb builds bridges and is Senate confirmable. It won’t please everyone, but some hawks—who are, likewise, critical of both Bush and Obama—also quite like Webb…

Be seeing you


War Is A Racket




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