According to a report from Politico today, it was Fox News regular, retired Gen. Jack Keane, who may have saved us from a war with Iran. This, after a report that we have Fox News host Tucker Carlson to thank. Either way, it’s a disturbing picture of Trump’s amateur decision making.
Today, Politico reported on Keane’s Fox News appearances after Iran downed a U.S. drone last month. The publication noted that Keane told viewers about the “horrific mistake” made by then-President Ronald Reagan when the U.S. mistook an Iranian airliner for a “Tomahawk F-14” and shot down the airliner, killing 299 people, including 66 children.
Keane’s reference to the United States’ accidental downing of an Iranian commercial airliner in 1988 made a profound impact on the president, who was “spooked” when he learned of the incident, according to two sources briefed on his reaction. The president made repeated comments about the tragedy on the evening of the 20th, leading aides to believe that Keane’s brief history lesson exacerbated Trump’s pre-existing doubts about carrying out the strike.
Politico went on to note that it’s “unclear” just how much Keane’s commentary factored into Trump’s decision to call off the airstrikes” and acknowledged that Tucker Carlson had also directly advised Trump not to attack Iran.
While aides and Trump claim he called off a military strike out of humanitarian decency, I find it unlikely (as I wrote in my last post) that a guy as corrupt and cruel as Trump acted out of anything other than self interest. I also find it possible that the White House would have considered Gen. Keane's influence on military decisions better PR than talking head Carlson's.
Regardless, Trump’s reliance on TV personalities over professional advisers is frightening, especially when it comes to questions of war and peace. Politico has more on the role of the man Trump reportedly called “my No. 1 guy,” and who was twice offered (and twice refused) the job of Secretary of Defense. Possibly even worse is that Trump aides have no problem letting everyone know that TV pundits serve as Trump's most trusted advisers.
It’s hardly unusual for presidents to rely on outside advisers. Yet Trump has done so more than most, keeping a kitchen cabinet of friends from his previous life in real estate and entertainment. Equally unusual: the special influence wielded by those, like Keane, who make frequent appearances on the president’s favorite television network.
It doesn’t hurt Keane’s standing in the West Wing that he has more often than not defended the president’s policies on television, including Trump’s most recent tête-à-tête with North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un. While Keane acknowledged in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer that the president’s jaunt into North Korea was “largely a symbolic gesture,” he said that the meeting had served to restart negotiations between the two countries.
At least Keane, unlike Carlson or Sean Hannity (Trump's unofficial chief of staff) or informal adviser Lou Dobbs (Trump's informal adviser) is qualified to opine on military matters. But maybe that's the point of talking up Keane's role to the press.
(Keane image via screen grab)
Once Iran starts enriching uranium to weapons-grade, Orange Dumbo, prodded by Chickenhawk KKKlannity and Talking Toilet Brush Bolton, will launch an air strike against Iran’s anti-aircraft missile defenses and then against its nuclear facilities. Iran will counter with attacks against oil facilities and oil tankers across the Mideast.