December 7, 2016
Washington, DC – The Win Without War coalition released the following statement by Director, Stephen Miles, in response to news that President-elect Trump will choose retired Gen. John Kelly as Homeland Security Secretary:
“This is not normal. Donald Trump appears to be installing the most militarized Administration in modern American history. With the nomination of General Kelly coming on top of the nomination of Generals Mike Flynn and James Mattis and the reported consideration of General David Petraeus, Donald Trump has placed recently retired military officers in charge of an unprecedented breadth of America’s government.
This militarization of our government not only threatens the constitutional firewall between our civilian government and the military who defends it, it also drastically limits the breadth and depth of experience that the President’s senior advisors bring to his desk as he weighs policy options. As the saying goes, if all you have is hammers, everything looks like a nail.”
Background on General Kelly and his nomination to be Secretary of Homeland Security
President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly chosen retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as the next Secretary of Homeland Security. Kelly left the military less than one year ago after serving more than four decades in the U.S. Marine Corps. During that time, Kelly – whose son was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2010 – led combat operations during the height of the Iraq war, and most recently served as head of U.S. Southern Command.
With news of Gen. Kelly’s appointment, Trump has now nominated retired military brass to three top foreign policy and national security leadership positions – Kelly himself, retired Gen. James Mattis as Defense Secretary, and the controversial retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser. There is further speculation that he’ll pick another retired general to lead the State Department.
Americans should be concerned that such a large number of ex-military officials will hold prominent civilian national security positions in the Trump administration. Generals’ careers have focused on military – not diplomatic – solutions to complex security problems around the world, and Trump’s potential incoming military Cabinet comes at a time when the Pentagon – with its more than $600 billion budget – already holds vast sway over key foreign and national security policies.
Trump’s choice also signals his intentions to follow through on his troubling anti-immigration campaign promises, as Gen. Kelly is widely seen as a “border security hawk.” This appointment adds to the increasing alarm over the militarization of our border and domestic policing, policies Gen. Kelly will oversee if confirmed to this role.
Gen. Kelly also has held some troubling positions throughout his career. During his time overseeing operations at Guantanamo Bay, he publicly refuted claims that detainees there had been mistreated, even going so far as to say the force feeding of prisoners on hunger strike there – which many experts and rights groups said amounted to torture – was reasonable and humane. Kelly also had been accused by military officials of trying to obstruct President Obama’s plans to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
Gen. Kelly has expressed concerns to the full integration of women into U.S. military, a policy enacted under current Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.
For further comment, questions, or to discuss the broader concerns about Trump’s national security cabinet picks, please feel free to contact Stephen Miles, Win Without War’s Director, at [email protected] or 504-289-3594