Donald Trump ignorantly said that former Presidents did not telephone the families who lost sons and daughters in hostel action, while serving their country. That, of course is an outright lie! All former Presidents have called or written the families, and many have specifically held functions for the so-called “Gold Star” Families at the White House. But, telling such lies has become routine for Donald Trump.
Over the past week, once again, Trump was bitten by his own version of “fake facts.” He had to be prodded to call the families of four Special Forces sergeants, who were ambushed and killed in Niger. Thus, Donald Trump has once again created a mess; which, given the question of faulty intelligence, has blown the whole Niger issue way out of proportion.
Chief-of-Staff John F. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine General thus entered the fray. General Kelly has known the heartache over military troops killed in battle, from both sides: his own son, Marine First Lieutenant Robert M. Kelly died in battle, in Afghanistan, nine years ago; also, he has walked among the gravestones at the Arlington National Cemetery, knowing that some of those men died, following his orders.
Since the details of the recent blow-up have been endlessly covered by the media, I will not go there. The question that I ask, however, is: When Chief-of-Staff Kelly inserted himself into this brouhaha, was he speaking as a father and a former general, or was he acting as one of Donald Trump’s closest advisors? Kelly had always preferred to keep his family’s loss out of the media, since one soldier’s life is as valuable as any other; however, Trump brought it up assumedly for his own thoughtless purposes.
In a prior post, I cited the fact that several recent Presidents—Kennedy, Johnson and Bush 43—virtually disregarded the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And with Donald Trump, having three generals who answer directly to him—Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster—the role of the JCS, in offering military planning and ideas, would be totally up to Mattis. That is, however, if Trump listened to anyone!
Originally, all three of the generals appeared to provide their own advice to Trump, rather than just telling him what he had wanted to hear. Currently, however, by getting involved in this latest flair-up, it appears that John Kelly has taken on the role of answering for the Chief. After 43 years of serving his country, how much longer can General Kelly stomach defending Donald Trump?