"Putting on the Game Face"
|The public is generally unaware of the relationships, between the mind of a leader, the consensus of their staff, and the counsel of trusted advisors. There is much more to the calculus than a leader simply accepting staff recommendations. Identified above are the three components that are involved, based upon how the military sees the decision making process and how the leader, advisors and staff work together in seeking the best way to decide upon a course of action. Once a leader defines a problem, the process kicks into gear. For example suppose president Trump decided in preparing for his meeting with president Putin, that the problem was to determine the best way, to improve communications and get traction on issues of mutual interest. One of these would be Nuclear Arms Control, another perhaps interference in each others Election process, and finally Soviet "Adventurism" in destabilizing the world order for geopolitical gain. Thus the purpose of the meeting in Helsinki was not to exchange accusations and insults but rather an attempt to clarify issues and examine where common ground might be found between the Interests of the United States and Russia.
Say President Trump defined the purpose of the visit in these terms... "Determine the best away to mitigate the issues of, Soviet Adventurism, Soviet Election Meddling, and Soviet Nuclear Weapon Inventories."
So far so good... He would tell his staff to study these three things and give him some alternatives and recommendations. By Staff I mean his cabinet led by his chief of staff. The staff would be told to gather facts and assumptions as well as courses of action bearing on the problems. The intelligence agencies, the CIA and DIA and a host of others would be asked to help gather and develop information pertaining to these issues. In theory the CIA and DIA are quasi-independent. They need to be free of political influence to insure that the information they provide is untainted by political bias. In reality these agencies get seeded each election cycle by the administration in power and these new players carry the taint, to one degree or another, brought into the process by political appointment. What this means is that even if the Director is replaced, when a new political administration comes to power, much of the rank and file continue the bias of the appointing authority who recruited, trained and directed their daily activities. This is often referred to as cultural bias.
For example John Brennan and James Clapper were Obama sympathizers who owed their job to the Democrats. They allowed Susan Rice, the National Security advisor to "Cherry Pick" intelligence information and use it to selectively attack members of the incoming administration, one of whom was General Flynn, her scheduled replacement. Once Clapper, Brennan and Rice were out of the picture there were still many others who remained in the system who shared their loyalties, bias and political views. No doubt most continued to do great service to the United States by providing continuity, doing their jobs and not allowing their personal feelings to influence their work. There were however, others who felt obliged to use the power of their office in ways to hamstring the incoming administration and thwart the will of the elective process. Two classic examples are Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, however there are many more who bitterly resented being forced from power.
One the eve of his trip to Helsinki, we see president Trump getting all manner of advice from his staff and the Intelligence Agencies. Suddenly, Then DOJ drops a bomb shell. They tell the President that 12 Russian Agents are being Indicted for Meddling in the 2016 Election and that he needs to tell Putin to "Frack Off." This was an overt attempt to insure that Trump did not achieve another foreign policy success similar to his success with North Korea. So how do you suppose the President was inclined to react after being sandbagged yet again, by the very agencies who were supposed to be helping him? The answer was.... with skepticism. Even if he believed that what the Intelligence agencies were saying, the word "Meddled" is pretty ambiguous.
So what is this meddling discussion really all about? Is it about (1) Russian actions designed to favor one candidate over the other, (2) efforts to generally destabilized the electoral process or (3) routine intelligence gathering activities that every country is involved in. Russia is not the only country involved in cyber-espionage. So it is with the United States... and as it is with the State of Israel, and so with a host of others, not the least of whom is China. If the definition is broadly construed to include all three, then what is happening is nothing more than what has been going on for a long time. It is business as usual. Of course the Soviets hacked the DNC and HIllary's computer, and in the process hit the mother lode. These servers, which were virtually unprotected, had all manner of classified information, some of which included the most sensitive and close hold secrets in the land. Many emails were smoking guns that led directly to the methods and means by which we know things we shouldn't... but somehow manage to find out. Why would the Russians not "hack" into this bonanza provided on a silver platter? What Hillary did was one of many acts of poor judgement that plagued her tenure at the State Department and lead up to the 2016 elections.
So did the Russians favor one candidate over the other? Our Intelligence agencies today think that just because they listen in on a telephone conversation between two top officials of a foreign entity that everything being discussed is true. They need to quit thinking this nonsense and realize that while foreign governments don't know exactly how we are listening in, they can take protective measures and when they receive indications that it is indeed taking place, can respond by providing misinformation. Before we had all these fandango eavesdropping devices our assessment of what a foreign government was up to was based on National Interests. Unfortunately this assumption has fallen out of vogue. Today the assumption is that if "Boris" said it over the telephone then it must be the gospel, instead of bouncing it off the time proven litmus test. If you ask the National Interest question, "Who did the Soviet Union hope would become president in the 2016 election, the answer is unmistakabler. Barrack Obama had given the Russians a virtual free pass, by pulling back on US influence. They acted by among other overt actions, destabilizing Syria. The Muslin invasion of Europe by refuges will have adverse consequences for generations to come. The "Sweetheart" pipeline deal with Germany will eventually undermine the trust between NATO partners and lead to a disintegration of the European Union. This was where the weakness of Obama's foreign policy brought us. For the Soviets, looking at the 2016 elections, Hillary Clinton offered the promise of eight more years of malaise. Donald Trump was Russian's worst nightmare. He was a Capitalist of proven talent and promised to Make America Great Again. The thought of the ghost of Ronald Regan rearing its head sent cold shivers through the Kremlin. There's no doubt who the Russians wanted to see win.
If all the Russians wanted to do was sew the seeds of some discord into the electoral process then they they must not have seen it as very meaningful. The amounts they spent are so trivial that they border on the absurd. So what, if they tossed a few shekels in that direction. The United States has been meddling in foreign elections forever, the most recent example was Obama sending agents to Israel to unseat the Prime Minister. This aspect of the meddling is so ongoing and hypocritical it takes cheek to complain. Radio Free Europe has been broadcasting for years to sow seeds of doubt and mistrust among Russians and their allies. If we don't like meddling there is plenty of room for negotiating an end to it.
I realize I've digressed from discussing the staff process in decision making. I will pick it up later. It is something the media is not clear on and would benefit from some elaboration.