A few weeks ago, retired general David Petraeus was rumored to be on the short list for the job of Secretary of State in the Trump cabinet. But if he offered the same thoughts to our new Tangerine Tyrant that he offered to Congress on Wednesday morning, it's easy to see why he didn't get the job.
Petraeus appeared in front of the House Armed Services Committee, where he offered a dim view of where we could be heading. While he didn't mention Trump, it's clear that he is concerned about the policies that are coming out of the new administration.
According to CNN, Petraeus cautioned the lawmakers that the current world order isn't guaranteed to last forever. He said,
"Americans should not take the current international order for granted. It did not will itself into existence. We created it. Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. We have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and, eventually, collapse. This is precisely what some of our adversaries seek to encourage."
That was a clear shot across the bow of the Trump ship of state. Trump has been attacking NATO, one of the organizations that has helped preserve the current order, for months. His remarks have left traditional U.S. allies shaken and unsure of whether they can expect American assistance if and when needed.
The former CIA head also had some thoughts on Trump's buddy Vladimir Putin.
"President Putin, for instance, understands that, while conventional aggression may occasionally enable Russia to grab a bit of land on its periphery, the real center of gravity is the political will of the major democratic powers to defend Euro-Atlantic institutions like NATO and the EU. That is why Russia is tenaciously working to sow doubt about the legitimacy of these institutions and our entire democratic way of life."
Trump and his allies won't listen to people like Petraeus when it comes to the threat posed by Putin's Russia. They want America to be closer to the country run by a man who has made it clear that he seeks to reestablish the Russian empire. Putin has already grabbed land in Ukraine. Don't be surprised if, after years of calling Democrats "appeasers," there's a Neville Chamberlain moment in our future, coming from a Republican president.
Petraeus saved his harshest, although still indirect, criticism of Trump for the Muslim immigration ban. Republicans on the Armed Services Committee need to take careful heed of his words. We already know Trump and his advisors won't.
"We must also remember that Islamic extremists want to portray this fight as a clash of civilizations, with America at war against Islam. We must not let them do that; indeed, we must be very sensitive to actions that might give them ammunition to use in such an effort."
The general also noted that the majority of Muslims, who reject extremism, are our "most important ally" in the fight against ISIS.
Committee chairman, Republican Mac Thornberry, indicated sympathy with Petraeus's concerns, but naturally didn't bring up the role being played by the Orange Emperor. Referring to a committee hearing with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger two years ago, Thornberry said,
"I'm not sure that anything has been simplified or made easier in the last two years. In fact, it seems that the world has only grown more dangerous."
The world got a lot more dangerous on January 20, when a clueless wannabe despot took the reins of power in the U.S. and set about standing the current world order on its head.
Republicans love their military men, and David Petraeus has been a hero to many in Congress. But they also love their power, and they certainly know there is a man in the Oval Office with the temperament of an eight-year-old who would be happy to turn his followers loose on them for the slightest perceived challenge to his authority.
"May you live in interesting times," is the old Chinese curse. "Interesting times" have arrived.