Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Not the cu-ra-tor of anything

In the movie Ragtime there's a scene where the wild-eyed anarchists/terrorists are holed up in a library and Jimmy Cagney - in his last film role, BTW - as the police chief is trying to organize his guys to deal with this problem. As he's trying to make some order out of this chaos up comes this painfully earnest scholarly type who announces that he's the curator of the library's priceless collection and that this situation must be handled with the utmost care.

Well, replies Cagney (in that terrific back-o-the-yards Cagney snarl), why don't you go in and tell those guys that?

Are you joking? replies the librarian.

My good man, says Cagney, so long as those guys are in there, you are not the cu-ra-tor of anything.

So, with that in mind, I guess we're beginning to see the answer to the question of "Will having H.R. McMaster as NSA have the effect of bringing some sort of adult supervision to the foreign policy/national strategic thinking of the Tangerine Toddler?"

I note in passing that FOX spokesmodel/Islamophobic-Amway salesperson K.T. McFarland is still in place at the NSA, as well.

Oh, well. It was a nice thought while it lasted.

Update 3/26: Fred Kaplan at Slate has a worthwhile discussion of this issue.


  1. Chief,
    i opposed the HRM placement from the gitgo.
    just stop a moment to think.
    he's a WP'er , and this means he's a typical example of their output.
    add them up;Petraeus/Mc Chrystal/Odierno/Casey.before i go on my comments apply to all the service academy grads.
    what do they all have in common?hint=it ain't duty , honor , country.
    i know what, when and how this will play out.
    if he keeps his place as a water boy he'll be awarded with a macom and inevitable Dc/s and or C/S of the Army. that's more of a sure thing than was HRC's presidential aspirations.
    if he does what he's learned since day 1 at WP he'll end up in the cat bird seat.
    jim hruska

  2. I'll be the first one to agree with you that the LAST thing We the People need is a bunch more Pentagon Perfumed Princes running things inside D.C. I'm still of the same opinion I was when we talked about this in the earlier post; I'd love to see Andy Bachevich as NSA or as policy undersecretary at Defense. McMaster isn't the person I'd LIKE to see here.

    But...given that Trump seems mesmerized by catch-me-fuck-me chest hardware he's gonna put SOME sort of flag officer there, and I'd rather it be McMaster than McChrystal or Petraeus or one of the other hardcore COINdinistas. McMaster doesn't seem to be as big a rah-rah-go-COIN type as his peers. At the very least he seems to be able to think outside the Army box; in classic-American-GO terms he's more George Marshall than Dougout Doug MacArthur.

    The problem with this news, though, is that it makes it pretty clear that not even McMaster is going to be calling the "national security" shots. It's gonna be the "clash of civilization" whackos like Bannon and McFarland and this guy Cohen-Watnick. If you liked Operation Endless-War-In-The-Middle-East under Dubya and Obama you're gonna LOVE these jokers.

    Given Trump's really, really low information level and his widely-reported lack of interest in and short attention span for complicated issues I'd at least hoped that having a real-world-strategy-thinking guy like McMaster would help counterweight the loonies and whackadoodles in Trump's entourage. But this suggests it's gonna be the other way around; that the whackos will overrule everyone else...

  3. Chief,
    we've been friends long enuf to understand one another.
    i've always felt that soldiering is a transitory state and guys like Marshall/Ike/Powell made the transition to statesman(whether we liked their policies or not.
    Mac Arthur never made that break, nor do i think that McM not walking away from the uniform is somewhat indicative.
    statesmanship requires soft thoughts and harsh actions.
    all i see to date is harsh talk with soft actions.
    jim hruska

    1. And it ain't gonna help that these goobers are gutting State. Hmmm...let's see. Shove a bunch of uniforms into "civilian" agency positions and then DX the civilian diplomats at the DoS...I wonder...could it gooly, that DOES sound like something someone who wants a Splendid Little War might just possibly do...

      Nah. Unpossible. Trump was the "America First" candidate, right? The one who wanted to undo all those messy "foreign entanglements"...

  4. State (T-Rex himself) is apparently offering up military options for the Kim family.

    1. I read that, but my take on it wasn't particularly spooked; it seemed like he didn't do much more than the usual diplomatic dick-waving "we can hurt you if you keep doing this stuff we don't like" kind of thing.

      It's kinda stupid - since the Norks know perfectly well we'd be foolish to start a war over a mere threat - but it doesn't seem more ominous than the usual posturing.

      My larger and longer term concern is the proposed Trump budget. Aside from the usual GOP gratuitous petty nastiness (meals on wheels? Seriously?) it's kind of a War Budget; cut every 20th Century industrial democracy social, economic, and political buffer while muscling up external and internal force generation. Try and push the US as far as possible towards a 19th Century imperial power; strong military, border guards, and police, powerful oligarchy and corporate state, weak and powerless subjects.

      I'm hoping the example of the resistance to the DLC and Trump can hold the New Gilded Age back. But I'm certainly not confident or even very hopeful...