A Nation Divided

I watched some of the CBS Morning News today and the brief interview with General Mattis.  The media is so anti-Trump that is was obvious they were baiting the General with questions hoping he would make derogatory statements about President Trump.  The General is a class act and simply said that he resigned because his philosophy was not in complete agreement with that of the President.  Mattis made a recommendation that the President pick a Secretary of Defense who was more in agreement in the areas of defense and foreign policy.  The media didn’t extract the negative details of his resignation they were hoping for.  The General is an excellent military leader in the way he respects his own commanding officer, the President.  Few leaders will ever be in complete agreement and it serves no useful purpose to criticize another officer for their decisions.  Mattis made his recommendations and when the President did not follow that advice he decided to step aside.  President Trump has shown himself to be willing to study an issue and change his mind when he was shown there is a better path to follow.  I doubt that Secretary Mattis made a convincing enough argument to the President regarding Syria and the need to keep troops there.  This was apparently the primary reason for Mattis departing the Cabinet.  During his interview Mattis repeatedly emphasized the need to back our allies.  Leaving Syria would be a departure from our tradition of supporting allied forces.  From my point of view the opposite has actually taken place.  Where are our allies in standing up to Iran, North Korea and China?  None of our European allies appear willing to protect shipping against attack in the Strait of Hormuz.  The Brits were humiliated by a ragtag Iranian navy capturing and holding one of their oil tankers for weeks.  NATO allies have largely abandoned us; we’ve gone it alone in nearly every world crisis.  A paralysis of fear has overtaken the once strong Germans with the French and Brits not far behind.  Everyone uses Trump as an excuse for their own cowardly behavior.

Perhaps less obvious in the General’s interview was his statement as to our nation’s greatest threat.  The media hardly addressed the notion that “division” was the greatest threat to America.  Mattis said elections are all about division; making the opponent look like a bad person while I am a good person.  Division politics used to be reserved for elections but that is no longer the case.  Politicians are attacking each other constantly and this is spreading to every section of America.  Americans are no longer united as Americans but are defined by political party or political values.  Are you conservative or liberal? Democrat or Republican? pro-life or pro-choice?  We are choosing our friends by these parameters and are unwilling to consider other points of view.  The elephant in the room during the interview was the media.  Mattis didn’t say it, but the media has a role and responsibility in this division.  When >90% of media coverage of the President and his policies are negative, the Trump haters are justified and the Trump supporters back him even further.  We are going to our stereotypical corners of the ring, never to meet in the middle.  The General knows that an Army is only successful when it works together in a joint effort.  Even our founding fathers knew that “united we stand, divided we fall.”

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