A snake in President Trump's cabinet: Mark Esper tells all to 60 Minutes
When you think of everything that's gone wrong with the U.S. military — from its wokester agenda to its failure to contain Russia to its breakdown in discipline to the presence of Gen. Mark Milley on the Joint Chiefs of Staff — pretty much all of it has the name of Mark Esper, President Trump's former defense secretary, all over it.
Rather than slink off into obscurity after such a performance, if not back to the big-bucks war-machine defense-contractor lobby whence he sprang, he's out shilling a tell-all book and promoting it on 60 Minutes in a bid to discredit the man he purportedly "served," President Trump.
According to 60 Minutes interviewer Norah O'Donnell, he now calls Trump "a threat to American democracy."
But his interview with 60 Minutes didn't come out the heroic way he probably thought it would.
Unbeknownst to him, he demonstrated what a coward's coward and slithering snake he was while in office. Everything he did involved some new means of undercutting President Trump, or, as O'Donnell summed up, "subverted many of the president's wishes."
The interview can also be viewed on CBS's site here.
There were multiple bad things he described doing in that interview, but the summary line that stands out comes near the end, when he tells O'Donnell why he stayed in office instead of resigning on principle, which is what decent people do:
O'Donnell: "Critics will say, 'Why now in a book? Why didn't you speak out during the Trump administration?'"
Esper: "It's very simple. If I spoke out at the time, I would be fired, number one. And secondly, I had no confidence that anybody that came in behind me would not be a real Trump loyalist. And Lord knows what would have happened then."
Why shouldn't someone who's busy disagreeing with and working to undercut the president get fired? Did he tolerate that kind of behavior when he was in the Army himself, or as a top lobbyist for Raytheon? What a hypocrite right there.
Worse still was his reason for not resigning after he decided he disagreed with President Trump on everything — his fear that Trump might get someone loyal to his aims as his replacement, "a real Trump loyalist," as he put it. So the only reason he sat there warming his seat at the Pentagon was to prevent Trump from hiring someone else who was interested in advancing President Trump's policy aims. What a guy.
The arrogance of his logic comes in the part of his statement that came just before it in the video:
O'Donnell: "You're a lifelong Republican. But in this book, you detail how you subverted many of the president's wishes. People will say you were disloyal."
Esper: "I never disobeyed a direct order from the president of the United States. I was fortunate that he often didn't give direct orders. But otherwise, I did what I thought was best for the nation and our security, and completely within the authority granted to me under the law."
That of course was the Alexander Vindman justification for his sleazy backroom tactics to impeach President Trump, that he knew better than Trump, who was elected by the citizens for this job, to determine what U.S. national security interests were.
The other parts of the statement are disgusting, too — that he never disobeyed a direct order and technically operated within the law, which means he worked the legal loopholes instead of doing anything the president or the lawmen could pin on him. There are plenty of ways to get around the law if you're lawyered up enough to avoid the legal responsibility, which is what snakes do. Slither much, Mr. Snake?
Esper also claimed that Trump wasn't much for direct orders. Sound like a guy who's a big scary threat to democracy, as he claims?
What a nightmare he must have been to President Trump.
So let's get into some of his record now that he's laying it out to generate outrage against President Trump:
One, he's a big fan of Joe Biden's Ukraine performance and seems to favor mission creep, drawing the U.S. closer and closer toward involvement in that conflict and eventually war. He had praise for House speaker Nancy Pelosi's Congress, too.
The impeachment of Trump was brought up, too, which began with Vindman's leaks about Trump asking President Volodymyr Zelensky to keep up the corruption investigations, while seemingly withholding aid as leverage, while Esper bucked for the release of the aid without strings. Trump did release the aid, which neither 60 Minutes nor Esper notes, while ignoring that Biden himself used far more questionable leverage to get a prosecutor fired for investigating the energy company his son was involved with. Deal-cutting was always OK if Biden did it, you see, but not if Trump did.
After that, he tells O'Donnell what a hero he was in preventing "dark things" from happening to the U.S. with Trump at the helm.
His first example sounds like an outright lie: that "we had a proposal from the White House" to invade Venezuela, which would be very odd stuff, given Trump's aversion to getting the U.S. involved in foreign conflicts. Esper says he thwarted it, as if that socialist hellhole wouldn't actually benefit from a U.S. invasion, along with the rest of the hemisphere as terrorism-exporting Cuba went down as a natural side-effect. He also claimed there were calls to strike Iran and, horrors, blockade Cuba. Really? These were disasters avoided? Cuba should have been blockaded, given what it's getting away with, while the claim that Trump was itching to go neocon and start a war with Iran is obviously nonsense.
Esper, though, was the white knight who marched in to "swat 'em down" to save us from such calamities.
He later claimed that Trump wanted to send missiles over the Mexican border to hit the cartel hideouts, something President Trump has announced "no comment" on. Esper blithely dismissed that the U.S. was undergoing a flood of drugs from Mexican cartels and vaguely claimed there were other ways to stop it, but he didn't offer any ideas to O'Donnell. Left unsaid was that Mexico's president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has responded to pressure tactics in the past, as was evident enough when President Trump cut off trade with Mexico and shut the border in order to get his "remain in Mexico" deal through, which resulted in halting migrant caravans. Also left unsaid was that the U.S. had very much employed such tactics through its ally Colombia in 2006 and 2007, which had no problem launching cross-border attacks into Ecuador and possibly Venezuela when those nations were caught harboring drug-dealing terrorists on their territories. It's actually been done before, and yes, it tamped down that activity considerably. Getting rid of Mexico's cartels would have been a favor to Mexico, actually, given the threat these criminal groups pose to that government. Dismissing the idea as "ridiculous" was Esper at his stupidest.
O'Donnell asked who "we" was in his quest to shoot down every idea President Trump presented, and he admitted it was "mostly me" but also Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who later became the architect of the Afghanistan pullout as well as the promoter of the wokester military. Esper, according to his Wikipedia entry, was buddy-buddy with Milley dating from his Army bureaucrat days, where they "ran the Army for over a year before finding themselves in charge at the Pentagon," as O'Donnell narrated.
Found themselves, really? Like a Harold and Kumar movie? Very likely, it was Esper who got Milley into his current slot as America's top general. And the cronyism continued from there: Milley, in his testimony to Congress, explained that it was Esper who put him up to his infamous stunt just before the 2020 election and a couple of days after Jan. 6, which was calling up a Chinese general and assuring him that if the U.S. was going to attack China, he'd be the first to let them know ahead of time.
The calls on 30 October and 8 January were coordinated before and after with Secretary Esper and acting secretary Miller’s staffs and the inter agency.
Esper is the one who put Milley up to it, according to Milley's congressional testimony, and in retrospect, it sounds true.
According to Bob Woodward's book Peril, Milley didn't bother to let the president know, either. One wonders if Esper was the one who told Milley to keep quiet.
Esper goes on to lie again about his and Milley's "four nos" — no strategic retreats, no unnecessary wars, no politicization of the military, and no misuse of the military, all of which have since been belied by events.
Afghanistan under Biden got the ball rolling on strategic retreats, while unnecessary wars were belied by Esper's bid to get the U.S. more involved in Ukraine's affairs and letting Germany off the hook. The politicization of the military was obvious from the transgender agenda and the Critical Race Theory agenda that were promoted in the military on Esper's watch and which have worsened now that Milley is still there by himself. The misuse of the military — as a magnet vehicle for transgender surgeries — and his refusal to send troops to the literal frontier of the U.S. to head off a foreign invasion leave one wondering what the hell we have a military for at all.
Two other things leap out: Esper's grandstanding on the George Floyd riots, which involved rioters who burned a historic church directly in front of the White House ("protesters," O'Donnell called them), and criticizing President Trump for wanting to call out the military after the violence got that close, as well as left dozens of cities in flames for months on end. Somehow, this was bad, and Esper saved the country from saving America's burning cities by his logic. Anyone normal would have called out the military under such circumstances — except for a political animal like Esper, who wanted Democrats to politically benefit from that activity.
Esper also lied and distorted his role in Germany, piously claiming that when President Trump ordered the pulling of U.S. troops from Germany and the sending of them to Poland, he went and undercut the aim of that order by sending Germany more of them. Left out was the real backstory, which can be read on Wikipedia, that Trump's maneuver was all about getting Germany to end its dependence on Russian energy sources through the Nord Stream II pipeline, which pretty well has put it in a bind now that Russia has attacked Ukraine, and made Germany a disgraceful laggard on sanctioning Russia for its assault. Sixty Minutes left that part out. Esper must have been among those Germans laughing at Trump when he warned them not to get dependent on Russian energy.
All we see from this interview is a slithering snake whose main aim was to keep his job so he could continue to undercut President Trump.
In every instance, he knew better, yet in every instance, he was wrong. No wonder he's a fan of Joe Biden, the man who has been "wrong on nearly every foreign policy issue," as former CIA director Bob Gates put it in his memoir. Joe, though, was just wrong. Esper went out of his way to burrow into the administration and act out the wrongs.
The only conclusion one can reach from this is that Trump didn't fire this snake soon enough. That's sad.
Image: Screen shot from 60 Minutes video via YouTube.