The re-assignment of Pentagon roles by Donald Trump, who is expected to hand over the presidency of the United states to Joe Biden on Jan. 20, 2021, especially during this transition period is sticking out like a sore thumb. Refusing to acknowledge Biden’s win in the elections, Trump’s immediate dismissal of Pentagon chief Mark Esper has led to different interpretations. Following Esper’s marching orders, many top-level figures also handed in their resignations. Trump’s replacements for these figures on the other hand have caused a great deal of confusion.
Under the normal circumstances, U.S. presidents adopt an attitude that eases the process for the president-elect. However it’s crystal clear that the U.S. is miles away from the “old normal.” If we take a look at his various appointments, primarily at the Pentagon, it seems that Trump is not acting like a president who is going to leave quietly. It seems that Trump will make several critical appointments until January 20, as Republicans currently hold the majority in the Senate.
Some are even interpreting Trump’s axing of the defense chief, by bringing in Christopher Miller, as a coup attempt. It is a rare occurrence for the U.S., which has played a role in military coups across many countries of the world, to be spoken of in relation to coups. Come what may, Trump will make his exit from the White House on January 20. It is also clear that the Army will not follow Trump despite his appointments at the Pentagon. Someone once said, “The U.S. is the only country in the world that won’t be subject to a coup. Because there isn’t a U.S. Embassy in Washington. So why is Trump, who is supposed to be leaving his post in two months, acting this way?
Apart from Esper, it was common knowledge that Trump isn’t too happy with CIA Chief Gina Haspel and FBI head Christopher Wray. It was said that had Trump won the presidential elections, these two figures would also get the boot. What really left mouths hanging open was the dismissal of Mark Esper. Rumor had it that Trump’s close circle was pressuring him to sack the CIA chief too, but that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell was protecting Haspel. On the other hand, the fact that Haspel didn’t attend the routine briefing at the White House on Friday garnered attention.
It has also been said that General Paul Nakasone, Director of the National Security Agency, and Chris Krebs, Director of the “Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)” are also on Trump’s black list. According to a statement by CISA, the November elections have been the “most secure in American history.” This statement contradicts Trump’s claims of fraud.
On of the main aspects that led to Trump’s election in 2016 was his pledge to withdraw American soldiers from the Middle East, primarily Afghanistan. The Pentagon and other institutions of the established order put a stop to this. What’s more is that during Trump’s term, the number of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East only increased. The Trump administration signed an agreement with the Taliban. Accordingly, part of the troops were supposed to come home by New Year’s, and the withdrawal was supposed to be complete by May 2021. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien made statements in this vein. U.S. Chief of General Staff Mark Milley on the other hand described O'Brien's statements as "speculation." O'Brien in response denied any “speculation.”
Defense Secretary Miller, Chief Adviser Colonel Douglas Macgregor and William Ruger, who Trump nominated for the "Special Representative to Afghanistan," are all in favor of withdrawing troops from the Middle East. Macgregor, who was previously a commentator at Fox News, harshly criticized Trump for not keeping his promise to withdraw troops. Ruger for his part said that Trump was having trouble finding staff that would loyally implement his withdrawal plan. Ruger said that with the support of the new Defense Secretary, Trump will be remembered as a leader who ended the longest war of the United States. Republican Senator Rand Paul on the other hand stated, “Trump asked my friend Colonel Doug Macgregor to help him quickly end the war in Afghanistan.”
On Friday Christopher Miller released a memorandum saying, “All wars must end. It’s now time to come home.” Trump wants to withdraw troops from Afghanistan on his way out the door. The withdrawal of soldiers is significant in terms of Trump’s political future, but will he be able to pull it off?