U.S. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who is known in the White House a “conservative” or “globalist,” resigned, which was followed by U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s dismissal. Defense Secretary James Mattis’ ally Tillerson leaving was long a matter in talk. Now, all eyes are on National Security Adviser Gen. Herbert Raymond McMaster.
CIA head Mike Pompeo replacing Tillerson has to do with U.S. President Donald Trump’s desire to continue with a team of hawks who embrace his American interventionism. Pompeo was a strong supporter of Israel in Congress which he had served for six years. Known for being a strict Evangelist, Christian-Zionist and Islamophobe, Pompeo stands out with his harsh views on Iran and North Korea. Pompeo, who is on the same wavelength as the U.S.’s U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and the U.S.’s former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, is among those most in favor of breaking the “Iran Nuclear Deal.” Pompeo also defends military intervention in Iran.
Trump nominating Gina Haspel, one of Pompeo’s assistants, for CIA director resonated widely. At the beginning of the second millennium, Haspel’s name was included in the allegations of torture in the “CIA’s” secret prisons.
Both Pompeo and Haspel need the Senate’s approval. There are some among the mainstream Republicans in the Senate, who oppose these two figures. Senator Rand Paul is at the top of this list. Paul, who declared that he will do everything he can to prevent Pompeo and Haspel from being approved, is also warning that unless “Neocons” are brought to effective positions, the U.S. could be dragged into new wars. The arithmetic balance between the two parties in the Senate is on a tightrope. Hence, Haspel’s situation is more critical than Pompeo’s.
In the eyes of the U.S. public, Tillerson and Gen. McMaster, Gen. Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly were considered as a conservative team that balanced Trump. However, there is hearsay that McMaster has been at odds with Mattis and Kelly for some time. Accordingly, Mattis and Kelly are seeking an elegant way out for the three-star general, McMaster. Positions such as bringing McMaster to the head of the U.S. forces in South Korea or Afghanistan are among the options considered for him to get four stars.
Knowing who is coming in, what they are trying to do and what makes them act is important in terms of understanding the direction U.S. politics is headed in.
For example, John Bolton is one of the leading names as Trump’s new National Security Adviser. Other names are Stephen Biegun, executive secretary of the National Security Council during George W. Bush’s term in office, Israel-born Safra Catz who was in Trump’s transition team, and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Mike Rogers. Biegun is the vice president of “Ford Motor,” while Catz, who was presented by Forbes in 2009 as the 12th most powerful woman in the business world, is the CEO of “Oracle.”
It is no secret that Mattis and Kelly oppose to having Bolton replace McMaster. Bolton and Pompeo joining the “A-Team” is going to be the sign that Trump is aligning with the Neocons. There are even some who see such a development as a “war cabinet” composed of Neocon hawks. In the event Bolton becomes national security adviser, the pro-Israel, Islamophobic and anti-Iran figures who McMaster had purged from the National Security Council may return. The “Christian-Zionists” and the “Zionist Organization of America (ZOA),” which had shown a harsh reaction to this purge, had waged war against McMaster.
Trump’s new cabinet may really be a war cabinet and this may increase the dose of tension in our region. The likelihood of a war in Lebanon between Israel and “Hezbollah” is also among the currently most discussed topics. Such a development should be expected to have a domino effect in the region.