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Sunday, August 20, 2017

From on high they have spoken to us, we the people.

The neocon foreign policy elite vigorously embraced and enforced President George W. Bush starting three wars going into the 21st century: Afghanistan, Iraq and the global “war on terror.” Detainees, drones and now ISIS in Syria are tearing apart the Middle East. Now these wise men are warning us against Donald Trump, 13 years after they swung the wrecking ball, many as W’s aides and appointees.

Nice. Thanks, guys.

Fifty Republican national security experts have graced us with a letter stating that Donald Trump is a threat to our national security. They say Trump would be the “most reckless president” in American history, in part because of his volatile temperament, poor understanding of diplomacy and NATO, and chumminess with the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin.

My, how they’ve grown.

But not a word about the Iraq War, which they supported to a man, with false “intel” on weapons of mass destruction and ties to 9/11.

Many served in the George W. Bush administration at high levels, such Michael V. Hayden, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

So do go on.

Eight of the 50 signers belong to the Aspen Strategy Group, which meets every summer, breathing lofty summer air in Aspen, Colorado. Nicholas Burns, head of the Group, is another prominent former Bush official. He is virtually alone among them to endorse Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, as he makes the public case against Trump.

Why should we care?

Here’s what one anti-war political scientist says: “If this crowd (read: white-collar warmongers) is worried about Trump using force, that’s powerful.

“Then they find him a scary individual. They’ve learned since the war began.”

She — my mother, Professor Judith Stiehm — thinks the letter gives a green light to upper-middle-class Republicans to vote against Trump. They need a polite shove, official permission to dissent from their party nominee. And it might make a difference in a battleground state such as Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.

What about Trump’s base?

The letter will not change a thing among the Trump loyalists. In fact, the more elites talk, the less they listen.

The Republican letter might actually help Trump by egging him on. He shrewdly thanked the signers for coming forward so “the country knows who deserves the blame for making the world such a dangerous place.” The elites have not sent their sons (and daughters) to Iraq and Afghanistan in the all-volunteer military. On the contrary, it’s Trump’s white male voters who are more likely to know the lines of fire, with a clearer picture of the futility of the mission(s).

Anti-intellectuals in Trump’s core base of white, working-class men feel completely left out of the conversation President Obama has been conducting for seven or eight years as he reluctantly re-started the Bush wars he hoped to lay to rest. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama has also picked up the pace of drone warfare — a terrible way to wage war — and failed to close Guantanamo jail, a massive human rights stain in the world’s eyes. The irony runs rich. The 21st century, if it were a Broadway show, would have closed by now.

Very few people have sat in the “room where it happens,” in the tight Obama White House Situation Room or the Oval Office, where he reviews picks for the “kill” list. The president’s top-secret Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan did not signal an end to it all. But it gave the lie to Bush’s foolhardy strategy of sending the Army into the desert storm after one man to avenge 9/11 – an operation carried out by 19 hijackers.

To his credit, Obama never said he was a “war president,” a phrase Bush deployed. He also dislikes the phrase “War on Terror.” He has repaired a lot of the damage Bush has done, at home and abroad. Except for a functioning secular Arab state where women played a part in education and the professions. Iraq has been crushed into a wasteland with more civilian casualties than we care to count — more than 50,000. The Pentagon did what it does: Followed orders. The Army has carried the weight of a war that few can tell us: What for? More than 7,000 soldiers laid down their lives and too many have lost limbs. Bush never seemed to have lost a sound night’s sleep on it.

Just because the establishment has spoken does not mean people will listen.

If the 50 Republicans experts express regret for past wars or hopes for a future peace under Hillary Clinton, then let us praise them.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit Creators.com.

Photo: Former U.S. President George W. Bush delivers a speech at Warren Easton Charter High School one day before the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman