Destiny Abandoned

Author: Gary Hart

It is an interesting, and important, question for political historians whether a nation can, in a relatively short period of time, abandon many of its standards of behavior, political norms, types of leadership, ethical rules, and qualities of governance and still retain the same historical ideals to which it has been attached and principles upon which it was founded.

The answer most readily available is, wait until the next election.  If a majority of voters, or as most recently a minority, ratify those departures from solid tradition and principle  and hasten the process by which the America we thought we knew becomes a different country altogether, it is pretty clear evidence that the new and different America is emerging.

So long as laws and traditions stay within often flexible Constitutional limits, one administration can undertake to reverse, virtually across the board, bipartisan principles of foreign policy and domestic policies regarding energy, […] Continue Reading…

The Intractables

Author: Gary Hart

There is something that defines the United States that is tangible, identifiable, and definable.  It is called the national interest.  It is the sum of what it means to be a nation of citizens pursuing the common good, what is best and most important for all, for ourselves and for our posterity.  We see it most vividly and clearly in times of economic failure, the Great Depression, and security threats, World War II and the Cold War.

Both these conditions cause us to put the national interest and the common good ahead of other, narrower concerns.  Faced with neither of these threats, too often Americans divide over lesser concerns.

In recent years those narrower issues have sharply divided our nation.  They include guns, abortion, immigration, and perhaps one or two others.  Having no unifying challenges to address, political parties instead migrate toward coalitions composed of single issue voters such as gun […] Continue Reading…

Welcome to the Deep State

Author: Gary Hart

It is unclear when the Deep State was created or created itself.  It almost certainly took shape in the 20th century.  Candidates for creating the Deep State, or permitting it to create itself, are Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman.  Roosevelt for domestic purposes, Truman for international purposes.

Being a machine that runs of itself, its members almost certainly are senior career civil servants in every cabinet department and agency.  That means, at least, fifteen cabinet departments and anywhere from seven to fifteen principal agencies.  To be effective the minimum number of Deep State members must be at least a hundred per department and agency.  Thus, the core of the Deep State would be in the neighborhood of two or three thousand individuals.

Over time, senior officials retire and must be replaced.  If this mysterious State arose under Roosevelt, then there must have been over time some tens of thousands of secret […] Continue Reading…

Protecting the Republic

Author: Gary Hart

The Department of Justice, where I once worked in the National Security Division, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is the principal federal law enforcement agency, are, together with the Central Intelligence Agency and a dozen or so related intelligence service and, of course, the Department of Defense, responsible for the security of our nation.

What weakens them, weakens our nation.  That is why those of us who served on the Senate Select Committee to Investigate the Intelligence Services of the United States (the “Church Committee”, 1975-1977) took extraordinary care to fairly treat these agencies while building Constitutional barriers to unlawful behavior.  Veterans of those agencies agree that they were made stronger by constraints placed upon them.

Virtually non-stop since legitimate questions were raised by the Justice Department about Russian tampering with our 2016 election, universally confirmed by all intelligence services, the President of the United States has conducted open […] Continue Reading…

“Terrified”

Author: Gary Hart

Service on the Senate Armed Services Committee offered penetrating insights into America’s national security structures, both military and intelligence.  It also offered introduction to senior military and civilian commanders of both those structures.  With very rare exceptions, those commanders were, and presumably still are, figures of substance, thoughtfulness, experience, sobriety, and patriotism.

Of the eleven former Secretaries of Defense I have known, four while serving in the Senate, none was more wise, thoughtful, and intelligent than William (Bill) Perry.  Until the fall of the Soviet Union and for a time thereafter, the principal concern of Secretary Perry and several Secretaries who preceded him was the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the threat of nuclear war, and the possibility always that one side or the other might mistakenly start World War III.

It all depended on technology and, of course, computers were at the heart of that and became even more so as they […] Continue Reading…

Do Narcissists Leave Legacies

Author: Gary Hart

A theory making the rounds is that Donald Trump’s vulgar and anti-presidential behavior is intentional not accidental, that he intends to shock, that he is completely unconcerned about critical comments from press and public alike.  His greatest fear is not condemnation.  It is fear of losing the spotlight and he will do anything, however shocking, to maintain center stage.

As bizarre as this sounds for anyone, let alone the President of the United States, it does account for his ugly behavior as the worst boy in the class.  And, thus, there are those of us who try not to reward that behavior by joining the growing chorus of outrage and providing him what he wants.

But it is necessary to assume he will be around for another three years, that is unless boredom genuinely sets in and he decides to wander off, and questions arise which deserve thought and attention: is […] Continue Reading…

What Awaits

Author: Gary Hart

Blessings on all who visit this site and who have been such loyal friends, critics, and commentators.

Whatever the coming year may hold, stay close to those you love, care for those in need of care,

stay strong in your convictions, and never, ever sacrifice principles.

Gary Hart

I Aspire to Be a Christian

Author: Gary Hart

What follows breaks two personal writing rules: too many first-person pronouns in an age of ego; and personal focus on my religious beliefs.  Starting with the New York Times commentary page and working outward, every writer makes sure you understand that it is him or her who is rendering an opinion, as if we didn’t know that already.  And though for a time a public man, I served in an age where serious public figures tried to live their beliefs rather than chant them and thus advertise their hypocrisy.

One way or the other many if not most of us practice the politics of identity.  So, Christians say “I am a Christian.”  Perhaps because I was raised in a humble evangelical household, attended an evangelical college, and graduated from divinity school, and have, for better or worse, always been a literalist, the Christian religion requires some qualifications for self-identification.  And […] Continue Reading…

It requires little in the way of foreign policy study or experience to understand that Russia’s foremost priority has been to erode if not destroy the alliance of Western democracies whose creation began to take shape even before the closing days of World War II.  Even before Hitler’s destruction became inevitable, Churchill and Roosevelt began to plan a democratic détente that would confine the Soviet Union and make the world, or at least the European part of it, safe for democracy.

After 70 years of patient waiting, Russia’s wait is paying off.

Now the cornerstone of the Western Alliance, the British-U.S. special relationship is eroding due to Brexit, shared anti-immigration grievances, the rise of right wing nationalism, and distrust of alliances generally.

Similarly, U.S. relations with Germany, France, and Italy, among others, are being casually neglected.

And most dangerously, American reliance on traditional diplomacy to maintain and foster close relations with traditional allies […] Continue Reading…

Heroism Amidst Brutality

Author: Gary Hart

If you live long enough, sooner or later life will break your heart.  Thoughts of this bleak observation arose from watching this Sunday’s 60 Minutes story on the bombing of hospitals in Syria and the magnificent heroism of the Syrian American Medical Society’s doctors trying to save badly injured children.

Try as we might, decent human beings cannot fathom conscious, purposeful evil directed at children, the most vulnerable among us.  But even in the midst of unfathomable despair, the rare courageous individual bears that evil away and gives us a faint hope that desperate meanness cannot and will not prevail.

As we contemplate courage in the midst of overwhelming evil, we can only remember Faulkner’s beacon of light: Man will not merely endure; he will prevail.

As we struggle to understand and rise above forces of hatred, forces arising from ethnic, religious, tribal hatreds, divisions not only used to identify ourselves but […] Continue Reading…