Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Conversation With My Son

Author: Gary Hart

“There is a constant stream of meanness in what they’re doing”, John said.  It is a unifying observation.  Immigrant children denied their parents.  Wilderness areas and national parks opened to drilling and exploration.  Farm bankruptcies brought on by trade wars.  Endangered species removed from protection.  Overt and covert encouragement of nationalism.  Taunting of political rivals.  Recurring racist references.  Virulence toward the media.  Sleepless tweets, all attacking someone or someones.

Not simply rough and tumble politics.  But mean.

Exploring the mentality of meanness is fraught.  The question becomes “why”.  What kind of mind, what darkness of spirit, produces a steady stream of meanness?

Meanness dwells in a separate, deeper stratum from anger.  Anger has an object that is usually, though not always, identifiable.  Someone can make you angry.  An inner demon makes you mean.

That same demon is the enemy of empathy.  Empathy is the ability to identify with another person, to feel their often sorrowful emotions.  Has this president ever, once, exhibited compassion?  He has no empathy gene.  He is all ego.

To skip lightly over Biblical admonitions to care for the earth and the creatures God created on it is justified in conservative circles as getting rid of “burdensome government regulations” in the interest of private profit.  This is being achieved across the wide spectrum of the Trump administration in virtually all government agencies.

Those agencies and departments are now virtually all in the hands of industry lobbyists and corporate executives busily dismantling four, five, or more decades of bipartisan legislation and regulation created in response to public demand, demonstrable need, scientific evidence, and national stewardship.

The “patriots” who claim to love their country but hate its democratic government have found a new crowbar in their toolbox—dividing up segments of the Interior and Agriculture Departments, shipping them off to disbursed areas around the country in the interest of “returning government closer to the people”, and downsizing them by attrition, because professional career civil service experts do not care to uproot families and fracture important collaboration with colleagues.

The “deep state” government Trump discovered was not a Democratic cabal left behind to frustrate him but rather the career civil service committed to enforcing regulations and laws mandated by successive Congresses.  How better to dismantle it than fracture it and ship it to various parts of the country.  Lives and professional networks disrupted?  Too bad.  There is a meanness, in addition to dishonesty, to this.

The meanness at the very heart of this administration and White House is such that it frightens Republican members of Congress into silence.  Career before country.  Re-election looms and there is the “base” to consider.

Autocrats and dictators throughout history have demonstrated meanness in the interest of control.  The meanness required to threaten and punish is sufficient to dictate loyalty.

The balance of power in our government was meant to prevent that kind of meanness-based power.  The Founders feared the “man on a white horse” not because of the attractiveness of the horse but because such a man could turn mean.

Even then, the Founders believed their fellow countrymen and women to be of sufficient republican virtue to send a mean autocrat packing, with or without his horse.

John’s comments brought our current baffled national dialogue, if it can be called that, to a new and deeper level.  What causes a president to become mean?  Possibly he has always been mean, and there is some evidence of that.

Fear is a powerful force.  Using fear of immigrants, trade partners, even our own allies, an innately mean national figure can descend to a level of meanness hitherto unknown.

And that is where we find ourselves.

There is such a thing as national character, what we would call the American character.  If that character is what I have always believed it to be, we will soon drive our current meanness from the national stage.  If not, God help us.

No one is quite sure how issues of public concern struggle up a hill of public unawareness before reaching the summit—the tipping point of public consciousness—and then start rolling downhill picking up speed, momentum, and wide-spread concern.

There are, of course, many instances of this: civil rights; equality for women; air and water quality; nuclear weapons, and many other major issues that started as remote causes and then became of general concern for the nation.

We may be witnessing something like this concerning climate damage.  If so, it could play a decisive role in the 2020 election.

Even so, climate destruction will not replace health care and immigration at the top of the political pyramid.  But with a number of Senate and House contests that are close, as well as the presidential contest, if climate concern has reached the tipping point in public consciousness, it could well determine the next occupant of the White House as well as governing majorities in both Houses of Congress.

Recent history will credit former Vice President Al Gore, as well as others such as former Senator Tim Wirth, for identifying climate damage early on, lead by the scientific testimony of experts such as Dr. James Hansen and others reaching back to the 1970s and even before.

Other scientists and elected officials in the 1970s and 80s also issued warnings and sought to focus public attention.  But we were drowned out by a small handful of so-called experts on the payrolls of energy and auto companies and others benefiting from unrestricted carbon emissions in the private sector and relied on by conservatives eager to avoid the issue and its dire consequences.

Some of these occupied the never-ending circle of campaign contributions and mutual reliance.  Others were trapped in an ideology based on resistance to government laws and regulations and wrote off the warnings as liberal nonsense.

There are signs this may be changing.  Republican “strategists” are beginning to warn of a climate backlash in next year’s elections.  The scientific chickens are coming home to roost in the form of rising temperatures, increased violent storms, massive flooding, crop damage by too little or too much water, damage to housing and retail outlets, record heat levels, and much else.

The shrinking band of climate deniers will continue with the mantra “who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes”.  But even those slow to change and slower to admit crisis sooner or later confront clear evidence and hard truth.

As evidence, consider the number of conservative candidates, especially those seeking re-election, now admitting “something must be done” to address climate destruction.  In too many instances their remedies are token at best.  But they cynically hope it will help them squeeze by without alienating corporate contributors still seeking to dump their last few million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Which brings back a pet peeve.  Do these corporate executives and their political protectors not have children?  Do they overcome sleepless consciences by pretending that their accumulated wealth will permit their children, as distinct from everyone else’s children, to locate living space somehow with its own pristine climate?

What folly!  What nonsense!  What arrogance!  What utter lack of any sense of shared humanity.

Regardless of ethnicity, color, religion, race, or gender, there is one thing our Creator has decreed: we all share the same climate.  The greedy, unconcerned executives and their hired political enablers can sail their gilded yachts to the far corners of the earth.  And guess what?  They will find the same storms, the same heat, the same rising tides as the rest of us.

Have fun on your new colony on Mars, folks.  The rest of us are going to continue our struggle to clean up the mess a hundred and fifty years of industrial pollution now deposited on our global doorsteps.

Hopefully, it is not too late.

Whose Morality Counts

Author: Gary Hart

It is rare, but not unheard of, for the United States or most other truly democratic nations to have an amoral leader.  Despite evidence to the contrary, it is also rare for a political party to loose its moorings from fundamental moral standards.

Yet, given the relatively unmoored period in which we are now living, some in the commentariat praise Ms. Marianne Williamson, for example, for calling political aspirants back to a moral base for their policies and programs.

Little harm and possibly some good in that.

Partisan theoreticians, however, argue that their respective parties have something like a moral base.  Conservatives find their morality, and the policies it produces, founded in family, community, religion, self-reliance, freedom from oppressive regulation, and cultural tradition.  Liberals, now self-described as progressives, seldom quarrel with these qualities but instead add to them concern for those left out, the homeless, unemployed, marginalized, dependent, and for protection and conservation of the environment, and, in the main, those elements of society unserved and unprotected by markets.

Conservatives see their government as a continuing threat of repression.  Progressives see the same government as a force for social good.

It has been suggested that the most straightforward way for Democrats to defeat the incumbent president is to focus attention on his seeming lack of moral and ethical standards.  It is an interesting and possibly successful strategy.

It might have the added advantage of forcing many so-called leaders in his party to finally separate themselves from his erratic and unprincipled behavior and to identify themselves with their proclaimed traditional values over his rogue, unhinged governing by tweet.

A book I wrote some years ago advocated for a Democratic manifesto that restated the fundamental, and therefore unchanging, principles of the party and linked the party’s policies and programs that flowed from those principles.  Basic principles for a party or a person are basic, unchanging beliefs.  Policies and programs based on those principles adapt and adjust to the constant changes in history and human life.

If a party goes too long without restating its principles it risks losing its identity.  Both American parties are guilty of assuming each new generation knows what they believe.  Basic truths, ideals, and principles require restatement.

To the degree political parties can be said to have a moral foundation that must rest in the periodic restatement of its principles and ideals.

Ms. Williamson and those who applaud her may be right.  It is dangerous to criticize or judge another person’s morality.  But Mr. Trump has made himself different.  It little profits us to rehearse yet again his undenied personal conduct, his repeated resort to race, his peculiar attraction to dictators, his resistance to alliances, his virtually universal failure in appointing senior executive officers and staff, and his demented delight in dividing society.

But, perhaps uniquely in American history, his “base” forgives him everything and seems to delight in his childish tantrums.  To launch a campaign centered on his lack of a moral compass is to hold all those who persist in supporting him accountable to the same judgment.

It is one thing to hold an individual to account using traditional moral standards and quite another to produce a judgment holding all those who insist on supporting him to the same account.

There is theatrical evidence that Americans delight in a scallywag.  Consider Professor Harold Hill, P. T. Barnum, Elmer Gantry, and a host of others.

Needless to say, it is one thing to promise seventy-six trombones and quite another to promise to make America great again, when it was doing pretty well until the incumbent showman came down the escalator.

Perhaps what is now at stake is not so much Donald Trump’s morality, or that of his party, but rather the moral foundation of our nation.

We will find out, hopefully sooner rather than later.

 

The Twilight of Character

Author: Gary Hart

Robert Mueller is an increasingly rare figure.  Were he to have been portrayed in a movie, it would have to have been by Gary Cooper.  And that’s the point.  Gary Cooper is gone, and so are figures like him and like Mueller.

Why?

Consider the qualities of the type.  Taciturn.  Quiet.  Straightforward.  Direct.  Undramatic (and therefore dramatic).  Dependable.  Resolute.  Honest.  Guileless.  Stern.

Movies have become silly cartoons.  And so have politics.

There are no roles for Cooper.  And the Administration tried to eliminate Mueller’s role as well as roles for anyone like him.

Watching Mueller testify was painful.  He wouldn’t say what Democrats wanted him to say.  He had to tolerate the petty rants of Republicans a third his size.

Little wonder that men and women of quality are avoiding public service.  It is an invitation to be demeaned by little people.

To become a hero to the Republican “base” requires surrender of character and integrity.  To refuse to surrender is to invite sacrifice of dignity and to being trampled to death by geese.

Throughout the life of most of us, that is to say until recent times, there were figures of stature and dignity in public life, in the Congress and in the White House.  They were respected because they earned respect by their conduct.

I was honored to serve with many of them.

No longer.

Rewards go to the clowns, the ranters, the silly posturers, the egoists, and the self-promoters.

Robert Mueller is from that earlier, better era.  Dignified.  Self-contained.  And, though he expected the worst, clearly dismayed if not also stunned by the behavior of the pygmies shouting at him.

As a friend points out, it is no accident that the Mueller clash of cultures occurs at a time when facts and truth are being dementedly eliminated from the public dialogue.

He deserved better.  We all deserve better.

Western society and culture are witnessing the disappearance of statesmen and women and their replacement by figures of much smaller stature.  Though this began some time ago, it seems to have happened too quickly for thoughtful analysis as to how and why.

The rabid treatment Mueller experienced is the result of a wholesale conversion of the Republican party of the past to the Trump party of today.  History suggests it will require years if not decades of struggle to reconstitute the party to which Mueller belonged throughout his life.  It may not happen.

Having failed to do what Democrats wanted and having told the truth about the Trump autocracy’s dismissal of the rule of law, Robert Mueller may now retire to the quiet life he seems to desire.

He will not wait for invitations to White House dinners, if nothing else because they too seem to have disappeared with most of our best traditions.  And he will not receive, though he has richly deserved, medals of honor and freedom for service to his country.

Where has Gary Cooper gone?

We may not see the likes of Robert Mueller again for a very long time.

 

 

 

Does a Nation Have a Soul

Author: Gary Hart

Forgive me if we have discussed this before.  But if we did, the question still remains unanswered, at least to me.

Leaving aside the theological issue of the human soul, is it possible a collection of people, in the case of the United States a large collection, can develop a collective consciousness that contains its most important beliefs, aspirations, and ethical standards?

Those who believe so would start with our Declaration of Independence and at least the Preamble to our Constitution as containing core principles that have guided our national path to a greater or lesser degree for well over two centuries.

We wanted independence from colonial control and fought for it.  We ultimately were forced to live up to the proclamation that “all men are created equal” and fought viciously among ourselves over that belief.  We struggled internally over civil rights, women’s equality, the Vietnam war, environmental protection, and much else in the mid-20th century.

In each case what was at stake was our own definition of who we are and what our principles are and ought to be.

All in our society who possess a conscience are drawn into these struggles whether we want to be or not.

Thus, like an individual growing up and facing ethical and moral choices, a society, even a very large society, struggles with this collective self-definition.

I am not a sophisticated enough philosopher to know whether this represents a collective search for a national soul.  But a sophisticated philosopher might plausibly conclude that it is.

It is also plausible to conclude that we are now involved in a dark night of our national soul.  Globalization, information, and mass migrations, now managed by dividers rather than uniters, are now threatening the fabric of our society and promoting division of Americans against Americans.  Whatever your beliefs are regarding a national soul, our collective consciousness is threatened.  I believe so is our national soul.

Faust traded his soul to the devil.  I believe a nation can do the same.

Profound issues of choice are being treated by parties and pundits alike as purely political issues.  They are that, but they are much more.  They are ethical and moral issues that will define our nation and our society for decades to come.

If we continue to stumble blindly down the descending path we are on we may never find our way back.  We need guides.  We need statesmen and women.  We need voices of conscience to strengthen our spines and set us straight.  One whole party has abandoned statesmanship and is making its own Faustian bargain.  Where are leaders of conscience from the religious, business, educational, and financial communities to remind us of our founding principles.

Have conscience and the national interest taken a holiday?

The months and years ahead will define our nation, and perhaps its soul, for decades to come.  History establishes that most nations, once in decline, never make it back.  America has no guarantees of immortality.

We define our own destiny by our choices today.  Will we trade our nation’s soul cheaply.  Or will we save our Republic by keeping it through our engagement, our principles, and the better angels of our nature.

This dispatch is slightly different from most posted on this site over the years.  Different in two dimensions: the use of the first-person pronoun, and the reference to a personal project.  Apologies for breaking my own rules, but I hope this may interest some of the loyal auditors of this site:

This fall friends, former supporters, and family will establish the Hart Center for Public Service at the Metropolitan State University in Denver.

As a member of the “ask not” generation, the orienting standard in my life has been public service.  It is the secular equivalent of the kind of religious service, teaching philosophy and religion, to which I was originally committed.  But the ideal of helping society here and now with immediate problems from hunger to nuclear arms control gave my soul direction almost sixty years ago.

I am blessed, some might say cursed, with that trudging single mindedness that age does not diminish.  So, not having a role to play in government (for obvious reasons) these days, the idea of promoting public service, broadly defined, for a new generation fulfills a need.

John Kennedy did not say “become a politician” or “run for public office.”  His message was broader: give something of yourself to others, to the society.  Try to make life a little better for everyone, but especially those in need.

Leaving law school, many of us did head to Washington because that was where the energy and action was, but in my case with the certain knowledge that after two or three years we would return to Colorado for some kind of career, family raising, and community involvement.  What developed thereafter is pretty well known, at least to those who care to know.

Despite having clear public service instincts, Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama did not repeat the Kennedy call.  President Clinton did create AmeriCorps but that was patterned after a private sector initiative called City Year built by Alan Khazei and Michael Brown, two young idealistic law school graduates.  These presidents’ reluctance to repeat the “ask not” theme was probably for fear of journalistic accusations of trying to be “Kennedyesque”.

Public service includes service in government at all levels, but also humanitarian projects, civic engagement, community involvement, and a myriad of ways of making society better.  Theologically, I could never be a Calvinist.  There are not the saved and the damned.  Despite conservative doctrine that if you are at the bottom of the ladder, too bad, we all can do better and be better by helping each other.

Though the Center’s appeal will be directly mostly to a younger generation that needs to see the torch of idealism in action, our message will be directed across the age spectrum.  Many retirees have time to help if given the structure, tools, and opportunities to do so.

After discovering the historic republics, I realized many years ago that, wittingly or unwittingly, Kennedy drew his theme from the ancient republics and those throughout history.  That theme was civic virtue, the innate sense that I am better off and feel better about myself (virtuous) by community engagement, being part of the solution to a better society.  That is the primary reward for public service.  The sense at the end of the day that I’ve helped make things a little better.  All the money in the world cannot provide that satisfaction.

We do not live only for ourselves.  We are not only citizens of a nation.  We are members of the human society.  John Dunne famously wrote: “Send not to find for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

The image of service is a torch.  It shines brightest when it is handed from one generation to another.  It is an ideal, an ideal to which human society at its best aspires.

From our modest venue, we in this endeavor seek to keep that torch alive, to send it out across the nation and the world, to inspire in others the warmth and the light of civic virtue.  And like Tennyson’s “Ulysses” to say to those looking for a nobler life, “Come, my friends, T’is not too late to seek a newer world.”

 

Happy Independence Day

Author: Gary Hart

Happy Fourth of July to one and all, including our friends in Canada and England, who continue to participate in this humble experiment in democratic dialogue and the promotion and protection of civility in an increasingly uncivil era.  It is a distinct honor for me to share your thoughts and ideas.  Thank you.  Gary Hart

It is pretty well-established 20th century American history that the Rooseveltian New Deal provided a very much needed series of steps out of the Great Depression, that part of the disparate package of stimulative and social safety net policies worked and part did not, and that the advent of World War II helped create virtual full employment and a rising economic tide.

Those were desperate times and Roosevelt was a pragmatist not an ideologue.  His motto was: “We’ll try something and if it works, we’ll keep it, and if it doesn’t will try something else.”

This is relevant history for today.  The democratic socialist and left progressive wings of the Democratic Party are proposing dramatic economic changes in education finance, health care insurance, wage floors, a wide variety of stimulant measures, and even Green New Deals.

The question is whether the U.S. has a pattern of accepting bold, innovative, structural changes when the national economy is completing the longest period of sustained growth in its history, when markets are stable and rising, and when unemployment bounces around 3.5%.

The answer is no.

That does not mean it could not happen.  It does mean that Americans, including many on the economic downside, are cautious about massive expansion of government initiatives, and power, when the middle class is experiencing a degree of stability and is concerned, but not yet afraid, about the future.

Too many Americans are still struggling to achieve the American dream.  But that is a far cry from “one-third ill housed, ill clad, and ill nourished.”

This nation is a curious mixture of innovative self-image and actual cautiousness.  We think we are much more interested in change and experimentation than we actually are.  The upper twenty percent by and large do not want higher taxes.  The middle fifty percent may be restless but distrustful, thanks largely to right wing propaganda, of massive new government programs.  For those in the last thirty percent who are struggling just to hold on, they have little to lose and will try almost anything.  Except too many disappear on voting day.

The exceptions to the last observation are small farmers losing their land and yet who will vote for Trump again.

All this to raise the central question: how does the Party of change carry out bold proposals in a country that resists sweeping proposals until it has to accept them.

It is one thing to excite the farthest left base of a Party to win a nomination and quite another to win a general election requiring support from Party moderates and a majority of independent undecideds.  Two very different creatures.

Many on the left are banking on major dissatisfaction with Trump.  And there is a massive amount to be dissatisfied with.  But the historic pattern is that incumbent presidents win re-election when the economy is growing.  And ours seems to grow despite every effort Trump has made to throttle it.

Many Democratic candidates believe their life stories, experience, and charisma will close this gap between reality and history.  And, as one who has been there, I say God bless.

But it will not be easy.  Expect a lot of “don’t change horses in the middle of the stream”, “you never had it so good”, and “are you really ready for socialism?”

Perhaps this election will be a referendum on Donald Trump.  If bolstered by a number of thoughtful, practical new ideas, that may be a winnable strategy.  A president unwilling or unable to open an arena and speak to a cross section of Americans is not a confident president.  He is presumably intelligent enough to know that a re-election strategy focused only on a minority “base” is a high wire act that assumes an awful lot of Americans are stupid.

That we are not.

A Busload of Presidents

Author: Gary Hart

What can be made of two dozen or so Democratic candidates for president.

Based on recent history, one analytical approach is to sort by mini-primaries.  There might be contests by gender whereby only one or two of the six women candidates or no more than three, possibly four, of the 16 men candidates survive past the early round of caucuses and primaries.  Of the three candidates who come from minority communities, possibly only one or two will make it into the middle rounds.  There could be regional geographic sort outs…one or two from New England, the same from the Midwest, and the same from the West.

The sorting might be in money terms: the golden rule–the ones with the most gold rule.

The most effective sort will be carried out by the voters themselves.  After the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, and certainly after the now early California primary, do not expect more than four finalists to remain.  If one or two others are closely bunched in the top pack, that number could go to six but that is highly unlikely.

Selection by “identity” should take a distant second place this time.  The stakes are too high.

In the olden days (of which I am one of the last surviving veterans), failure to emerge near the top in early voting meant money dried up and the caravan ground to a halt.  To a still unclear degree, Internet fund raising has called that reality into question.  At least for a short while, less successful candidates can make dramatic pleas on social media for a few dollars more.

Then, most important of all, there is the “message”.  Among the busload, Vice President Biden, Senator Warren, and Senator Sanders have, by experience and policies, more clearly defined themselves than most of the others.  Consequently, they are at or near the top in most polls.

Points will, and should, be extracted for intra-party attacks and conflicts.  It is fair to distinguish oneself from the others.  It is not fair, in the interest of Trump removal, to foster destruction of other Democrats in that process.  Points gained for statesmanship.

But clarity will be required from all as to how to repair the historic damage to policies and institutions at home and abroad during the Trump era.

While we all, to greater or lesser degrees, seek “new leadership”, the project of national restoration will certainly require these qualities: experience nationally and internationally, statesmanship, integrity, trustworthiness, respect, stature, and gravitas.

Oxford defines gravity as: weight, importance, seriousness, and solemnity.  These qualities are experienced more than defined.  We know men or women with gravitas when we meet them.  Donald Trump will never be accused of possessing gravitas.

As an early advocate of policy specificity, policy wonks (e.g., Warren) are attractive.  As one who believes a President should be a skilled diplomat (especially post-Trump), those with the most international experience (Biden, Bennet) are also attractive.  As a future commander-in-chief, a President should be comfortable with the professional military and have its respect (Molton, Buttigieg)

Attributes such as quickness of mind and compelling rhetoric (Harris) cannot be discounted in a leader.

We have miles to go before we will select a nominee for president.  Human nature suggests most if not all the busload of candidates will be guilty of faux pas or blunder.  To err is human; to persevere is divine.

The prize and the burden should go to the man or woman warrior prepared for calumny and persecution from the Trump campaign.  It will not be fun.  But, like Roosevelt, the struggle can be happy because the cause is just…and it is historically important.

Given the unprecedented times and administration, smacking down Trump debate bullying will be necessary.

Nominations are sought and accepted.

Trump’s Folly

Author: Gary Hart

Considerable historical research would be required to discover an American commander in chief less qualified to make judgments of war and peace than our current one.

We launched the nation under a general officer and in the 1950s had, as president, the former commander of military forces that won World War II in Europe.  In between, America has had presidents many of whom had performed some degree of military service or who, as in the remarkable experience of Abraham Lincoln, had undertook the arduous task of learning strategy and tactics.

There are, of course, no provisions in our Constitution that a president be prepared, either by experience or learning, to make massively important military decisions.  Perhaps the Founders simply assumed that candidates for the office would prepare themselves for that immensely consequently responsibility before assuming office.

Part of the responsibility of being commander in chief is the selection of men and women of considerable experience in national security affairs as advisors on such matters.

All this obviously comes to mind as we teeter like Humpty Dumpty on a wall regarding Iran.  We begin with a president so consumed with burning all aspects of the Obama administration to the ground and scattering its ashes to the four winds.  That includes such important achievements as confronting Iran with an eight-nation consortium demanding cessation of nuclear weapons production.

Typically, this unilateral withdrawal by the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement was heralded by the “art-of-the-deal-maker’s” promise to produce a much better agreement.  Don’t wait.

Having unilaterally withdrawn from the agreement, Trump now seems offended that Iran has resumed preliminary steps to create a nuclear arsenal.  What did he think would happen?

As history, for those who take the trouble to study it know, reveals, war is more often than not started by false information (Tonkin Gulf attack), bad intelligence (Iraq), or mistake (too numerous to mention).  Whether we will ever know the exact position of the U.S. drone in or near Iranian airspace remains to be seen.  But the commander in chief claims he was minutes away from a military response when, according to him, he learned there would be casualties.

What a surprising discovery.  That tends to happen when bullets fly and bombs drop.

Given the performance to date by this president, the decision to hesitate is taken by many to be a demonstration of startling (but rare) good judgment.  It doesn’t take much.

Predictably, speculation is rampant that cooler heads of senior commanders also outweighed the warhawk caucus in the administration.  Let’s hope.

Too many “liberals” in recent times have made the serious mistake that all generals want to go to war.  That has not been my considerable experience over several decades.  Most senior commanders, especially those experienced in combat, are cautious, thoughtful, and temperamentally sound.  It is more often political leaders, especially those with little or no military experience who see the armed forces as an instrument to demonstrate “strength”.

Thoughtful Americans can only hope, and possibly pray, that under the current commander in chief we avoid yet another endless conflict in a region little understood to satisfy the demands of those eager to punch someone in the nose.

War with Iran, or for that matter almost anyone else, would not be quick, inexpensive, bloodless, or necessarily successful.  Iran does not threaten our national security, unless it develops a nuclear arsenal thanks to Trump’s folly.  Even then, perhaps we will have a statesman as president who can restore us to a diplomatic agreement in everyone’s interest.