The Greatest Minds
Deborah Stoner, Foreign Policy Contributor
Opinion - Before his presidency began, Donald Trump promised that he would choose “the greatest minds” for his Cabinet. Despite some risky choices and potentially some detrimental ones, one of the best selections President Trump made was nominating General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who had both military experience and served as a distinguished member of the Hoover Institution. Due to his minimal political involvement leading to limited media attention, he was able to act as needed in the Department of Defense (DoD), without continuously defending decisions to an over involved media. Thus, President Trump did in fact pick “the greatest mind” for the DoD.
That pick is no more needed than today. In early August, North Korea threatened to fire a missile at Guam, a US territory in Oceania that also serves as a military base. The threat was so imminent that Guam governor Eddie Calvo informed the people of Guam that an attack on the territory was an attack on the United States. Secretary Mattis further supported this statement, saying that the United States would quickly remove any missiles threatening Guam, and any attack on Guam would instigate war between the nations. This is the only response that we can give to North Korea, which has consistently rebuffed all attempts of any peace arrangement. The fact that our Secretary of Defense is both authorized and courageous enough to make these statements against North Korea means that the Trump Administration is strong under Mattis.
That’s not to say that Mattis has been acting alone in this area. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, the Defense Secretary was joined by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in saying that Pyongyang would be held to account for any attack on the United States. With the State Department in charge of international relations around the world, Tillerson’s work with Mattis indicates that the Trump administration is working together to solve problems. China, an ally that the United States has had trouble with in the past, recently sacrificed a good source of money to implement more sanctions on North Korea. Through soft power, the United States can succeed in pressurizing North Korea to stop weapons production.
In the past, I’ve applauded President’s Trump’s pick of Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations. However, in the instance of North Korea, she has more than proved her worth. During her time at the UN, both China and Russia voted for additional sanctions on North Korea, something many people thought was impossible. In fact, in April, Russia vetoed a UN statement simply condemning North Korea’s missile launches. The change of heart or voting standards now reflects strong U.S. leadership and protection of our nation from all threats.
Although North Korea has since backed down on its threats, Trump’s picks continue to work and defend our nation. Mattis has made it clear, through military power and statements, that any attack on the United States would be both futile and would decimate the nation. Tillerson and Haley will continue working hard in the international community to lead efforts to enforce U.S. desires without any actual force. Although these may not represent “the greatest minds” in the idea of the highest IQs, or the most experience in their position, they are the best picks, and most of all, they work together to solve problems.
In the past, I criticized Trump for a lack of knowledge concerning our intelligence community and the military. I would still venture to criticize Trump’s inclination to tweet taunts to North Korea, as it may have unintended effects in inspiring North Koreans to hate America. Although we may never know the role intelligence has played in this particular threat battle, we can see that the United States is prepared and has again become a leader in the international community, something which every American should deeply appreciate.
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