The U.S. public is rightfully anxious about U.S. policy on Iran and whether the Trump administration is leading the country toward war in the Persian Gulf. The White House has ricocheted from one policy position to another, which has done nothing but heighten the fear that the president and his advisors do not themselves agree on a course of action. As the Trump team presses for policies that could lead to direct confrontation—and as Iran turns to more aggressive policies, including stockpiling uranium beyond the limits assigned under the 2015 nuclear deal—all we can do is hope the leaders who sit around the Situation Room table know how to handle a mercurial president who does not inspire confidence in his crisis management but instead makes crises worse.
A major player at that table is acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who replaced Patrick Shanahan after he stepped down as acting secretary last month. At a time of international tension and possible conflict, you want the best minds focused on the issue and strong advisors not afraid to tell the president when he is wrong. However, senior leaders in an acting capacity, such as this succession of acting defense secretaries, have the deck stacked against them when it comes to telling truth to power. This is made still worse by President Donald Trump’s management style—he does not seem to be looking for advisors who will say no to him. That’s why there are so many empty positions in his government temporarily filled by acting officials.
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
PodcastBuilding the World’s Biggest Budget
What do the Pentagon's decisions about military spending say about our priorities as a nation? What goes into the DoD's $700 billion budget each year? Former Pentagon official...
By Ilan Goldenberg & Susanna V. Blume
ReportsRising to the China Challenge
An independent assessment for Congress as mandated by the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act....
By Ely Ratner, Daniel Kliman, Susanna V. Blume, Rush Doshi, Chris Dougherty, Richard Fontaine, Peter Harrell, Martijn Rasser, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Eric Sayers, Daleep Singh, Paul Scharre, Loren DeJonge Schulman, Neil Bhatiya, Ashley Feng, Joshua Fitt, Megan Lamberth, Kristine Lee & Ainikki Riikonen
PodcastArmed services continuously make procurement reforms
There has been years of continuous procurement reform for the Defense Department. Tinkering by Congress has rendered procurement into a sort of laboratory. And each of the arm...
By Susanna V. Blume
The AI regulation wave is coming: Industry should ride it
America’s artificial intelligence industry is increasingly likely to face government regulations that could blunt innovation. There is a perfect storm brewing on Capitol Hill,...
By Martijn Rasser