Sunday, 29 January 2017

And while the furore over the 'Muslim Ban' kept everyone's attention, this happened...

Yesterday Trump reshuffled the US National Security Council (NSC) the main group advising the US President on national security and foreign affairs, downgrading the role of the military chiefs of staff and giving a regular seat to his chief strategist Steve Bannon.  Trump appointee, retired lieutenant-general Mike Flynn heads the body.

According to reporting by the BBC, the director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs will only attend when discussion is pertain to their areas. Bannon, it seems, will be a permanent presence. Under previous administrations, the director and joint chiefs attended all meetings of the NSC's inner circle, the principals' committee.

Trump also ordered a restructuring of the Homeland Security Council, and in two seperate orders:
  1.  banned administration officials from ever lobbying the US on behalf of a foreign government, and a separate five-year ban on other lobbying.  (a 'draining the swamp measure')
  2. Called for a preliminary plan by the secretary of defence to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS) to be presented within 30 days.  (this is presumably the same plan Trump claimed he had already formulated during the campaign....)
These moves, especially the appointment of Steve Bannon, were criticized by Sen. John McCain on CBS's Face the Nation this morning.  McCain referred to the move as "radical" because it minimizes the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As the Senate Armed Services chairman, McCain said it was concerning that Trump has centralized power around Bannon and that the  most important decision-maker on the National Security Council, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is now being shut out of critical meetings.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer chanelled Trump directly in his defence of the move today, saying that the new structure will "streamline" decision-making and praised Bannon as having a "tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now."

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