The Trump administration’s saber-rattling at Iran has skeptics of military action concerned about the inexperience of acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan — and whether he can stand up to long-time hawks like John Bolton.
Shanahan had held no government posts before joining the Pentagon nearly two years ago, and in his four months leading the Defense Department he has been less inclined than his predecessor, Jim Mattis, to resist President Donald Trump’s most dramatic impulses.
Now the former Boeing executive risks being overpowered in internal debates by Trump aides such as national security adviser Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, say former U.S. officials who worry that the administration is on a path to war. Those fears were inflamed by a New York Times report Monday that said Shanahan had delivered Bolton a plan that could send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if needed to respond to a provocation.
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