[T]wo factors combined to ensure the collapse of the decision-making apparatus.
First, it appears that the national security adviser, John Bolton, rarely convenes his cabinet colleagues, known as the principals committee, to review the toughest issues. Instead, key players are cut out, as reportedly the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was from the final, fateful meeting on Syria. Mr. Bolton has not named a replacement deputy national security adviser, leaving vacant a crucial position whose holder typically coordinates the national security agencies in drafting and carrying out policy.
Mr. Bolton has also taken over direct responsibility for managing everything from cyber and terrorist attacks to hurricanes and pandemics — tasks previously assigned to another top-level White House official. Mr. Bolton is also traveling abroad more than most of his predecessors, even as he is playing multiple all-consuming roles. These ill-advised choices alone would cripple national security decision-making.
But a second factor — Mr. Trump himself — has dealt the death blow to effective policymaking. The president couldn’t care less about facts, intelligence, military analysis or the national interest. He refuses to take seriously the views of his advisers, announces decisions on impulse and disregards the consequences of his actions. In abandoning the role of a responsible commander in chief, Mr. Trump today does more to undermine American national security than any foreign adversary. Yet no Republican in Congress is willing to do more than bleat or tweet concerns. [Continue reading…]