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The American Empire Is Now Effectively Being Run by Generals

The military has been given free rein to massacre at will, especially in the Muslim world.

Last Thursday, the well-connected political scientist Ian Bremmer tweeted the following: “Heard from Defense Min of a US ally: Mattis & Tillerson said they make relevant policy decisions & ignore Trump because he’s not in charge.” In other words, national security policy is being set not by the duly-elected president of the United States but by a career army officer and the former CEO of ExxonMobil.

This isn’t entirely bad news. As I’ve written, Trump is uniquely malleable, ignorant, and ill-suited for the role of shaping U.S. foreign policy. As long as he’s commander-in-chief, it’s at least a little reassuring to know that a man of his temperament is not the one making these kinds of life-and-death decisions.

What is concerning is that in the absence of a real president at least theoretically accountable to the public, the American empire is now effectively being run by generals, including both Secretary of Defense Mattis and his ally, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. Trump inherited from Barack Obama undeclared but nonetheless bloody wars in at least seven countries— Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. In each conflict, U.S. military officials have sought, and continue to seek, military solutions.

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