Donald Trump
Credit: Michael Vadon/Flickr

I feel confident saying that if Donald Trump had been our president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I wouldn’t be here and neither, most likely, would you. That’s because most if not all Americans would have died seven years before I was supposed to be born. That didn’t happen only because a young inexperienced president who had already been burned by the Bay of Pigs, was willing to stand up to bullies and warmongers among his advisers and find a face-saving way to pull back from the brink.

With Trump, things are certainly different.

Military officials got Donald Trump to agree to the botched Yemen raid by suggesting Barack Obama would never have had the courage to do it, it has been reported…

…Defence Secretary, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, reportedly convinced Mr Trump to go ahead with the raid by suggesting Mr Obama would never have been so bold as to actually go through with it.

The contrast with Kennedy should be self-explanatory, and he was following the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, Dwight Eisenhower.

Most of the focus recently has been on Trump’s reorganization of the National Security Council, in which he demoted incoming National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs chairman Dunford and elevated white supremacist political operative Steve Bannon. But here we see Dunford manipulating Trump with grade school playground psychology. People have been hoping, foolishly in my opinion, that responsible leaders in the Pentagon will serve as a reality check on ill-advised military operations. That hope failed its first contact with reality.

There’s reporting that President Obama was considering the Yemen raid but that the desire for a moonless night meant that it would have to wait until after the expiration of his term in office. He never signed off on it, and it should be noted that no one ever accused Obama in eight years of authorizing a major covert military operation “without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” But that’s exactly what unnamed sources raced to say about Trump in the aftermath of the raid in Yemen.

Anyone who is familiar with the process that led up to the successful bin-Laden raid would not accuse Obama of either timidity or recklessness. He would have treated the raid in Yemen with methodical skepticism, which perhaps was something that got on Dunsford’s nerves.

That Trump is this easy to manipulate shows that he’s weaker than any president than we’ve ever seen, and since he doesn’t do his homework, he simply can’t be trusted to serve as commander in chief.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at