The formation of the Donald Trump Administration is underway. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has been named White House Chief of Staff and Breitbart News executive chairman Stephen Bannon will be chief strategist and senior counselor. While these are big steps forward for the early molding of what the Trump Administration will look like, there is still a lot left to be taken care of.
One of the larger roles to be filled is Secretary of Defense.
In the post 9/11 world, the position of Secretary of Defense is especially important. Our military footprint abroad is enormous and terrorism is widespread. We always need people in government who understand the importance of liberty and the structure and function of our government, but this role also carries a heavy emphasis on knowing the threat our country faces.
This is why Secretary of Defense Jim Webb should happen.
The two names that are being tossed around in political circles and the mainstream media are United States Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeff Sessions. While both have their own established reputations, neither have military experience and thus lack a degree of experience that is not necessarily required, but a major plus.
Senator Sessions, a politician with a legal background and not military, supported the Iraq War. As the years have gone on, we’ve found what many suspected to be true at the time: it was a mistake. Senator Ayotte also has a legal background that lacks any military experience.
Jim Webb was enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Vietnam War. For his service, he received numerous awards. He received the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart during his time serving his country.
In addition to serving his country, he also has held numerous posts in government. In the late seventies, he was a member of the staff for the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. In the Reagan Administration, he first served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs and later Secretary of the Navy.
His record in military and government exceeds Senators Ayotte and Sessions. But beyond this, he has also held numerous positions favorable to a non-interventionist foreign policy. He opposed the escalation of hostilities in Saudi Arabia in the early nineties, as well as the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Webb has also been a vocal critic of the United States having a permanent presence in the Middle East.
Several months before the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Webb wrote an essay for the Washington Post that criticized the war’s supporters. He questioned whether there was an exit strategy and the idea that destabilizing the country would be beneficial to the international fight against terrorism.
Webb later described the Iraq War as “the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory.”
With this experience and record, President Jim Webb would have been a great development for American history. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party was preoccupied with dueling visions of a progressive utopia and left-leaning moderate establishment. After he failed to gain any traction as a candidate for the Democratic nomination, he dropped out of the race and unenrolled from the party.
But if a Trump Administration is going to be serious about putting military experience and strategy ahead of politics then a Secretary of Defense Jim Webb absolutely has to happen. Webb has the background in military service to understand how war works and knows what our brave soldiers experience. He has the background in government to understand the internal functions that shape our policy.
Senators Jeff Sessions and Kelly Ayotte may have their own individual strengths, but they pale in comparison to the contribution that Jim Webb can make as Secretary of Defense.