The White House Just Charted a Dangerous Course with NSC Machinations

Trump’s national security coup cuts military and spies out of big decisions

This weekend the mainstream media went bananas over President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Seemingly every bien-pensant in the United States and far beyond went on social media to howl gigantic curses at the White House, denouncing it as un-American, hateful, and quite possibly Hitlerian for temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim countries. That the ban lasts only 90 days seemed to get lost in the hysteria that Trump unleashed.

As someone who favors tough counterterrorism measures, I too was underwhelmed by the executive order. I want stronger vetting of immigrants and visitors, who need to be asked more questions about possible involvement in jihadism and extremism. Banning simply on the grounds of nationality makes little sense, while many have noted that countries which produce huge numbers of jihadists such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt were suspiciously left off the block list. Not to mention that if you want to keep terrorists out, Muslims in Brussels per capita are more likely to advocate violent jihad than their co-religionists in most Muslim countries.

Nevertheless, getting tough on terrorists and other undesirable immigrants was a big part of Trump’s campaign last year, so nobody should be surprised that he followed up, decisively, just a week after his inauguration. Moreover, panic about this executive order is overwrought, since presidential EOs are subject to checks and balances, and this one will likely be held up in courts for years.

The biggest problem with this EO is that the White House seems to have written and released it without the slightest consultation with the Federal departments and agencies charged with its implementation. The result has been chaos and confusion about how to bureaucratically execute what the president wants. This sort of approach indicates the White House is more interested in appearing tough than implementing successful policies.

That said, the weekend’s immigration EO accomplished what may have been its actual purpose—distracting everyone from the White House’s far more consequential changes to the National Security Council. The NSC has been around since 1947, but it’s not the sort of outfit that usually generates much public interest. Customarily staffed by wonks who excel at giving briefings, the NSC isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s enormously influential in policymaking.

Read the rest at The Observer …