It is hard for me to describe to my friends and colleagues what a Trump victory means for Ukraine. They want to know if America will be softer on Russia. I tell them a President’s international policies and strength is dependent on those who surround him. Recently, I analyzed the positions close to the President which could have a direct impact on my life in Ukraine.
The rumors are that President-elect Trump, or PeT, will reach out to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich or Senator Bob Corker (Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee). Speaker Gingrich would be no great shift towards the future. That would be the same old republican withdraw to the past. Senator Crocker is the diplomatic choice. It would extent an olive branch to the Congress and help gain favor with the congressmen who are still unsure how to react to the election. However, then you run the risk of losing majority in the Senate (but not very possible). I think PeT should consider Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee. It is a way to make his new friends in Congress happy. Plus, there is a promotion in store for one luckily member of Congress who may feel a little grateful.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., looks like the front runner for the Secretary of Defense. His position is slightly different than Crocker’s, in that, his seat is not as vulnerable to a democratic challenger. But, it may again be wiser to look elsewhere. For instance, in PeT’s chest of 200 veterans leaders who have publicly backed him.
The non-cabinet position with the greatest impact on foreign relations is the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor or at times informally termed the NSC advisor. It seems to be Lt. General Flynn will move into the role of NSC advisor, but then again, PeT defies the status quo. I know that whoever enters this position will have a significant amount of influence over PeT. What is needed is experience, patience, and assertiveness.
Lt. Gen. Flynn seems a good choice. He has previously served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. This means he has an understanding of our defense strategy and can advise PeT at a moment’s notice without having to run a mass bureaucracy such as the Department of State or Department of Defense. A direct line to the President.
The Chief of Staff is my dream job. I know it’s also only not in the “Kitchen Cabinet”, but it is the position that provides the most power and least amount of visibility. ABC mentioned four possibilities for this position: head of the RNC Reince Priebus, Breitbart executive Steve Bannon, and PeT”s son-in-law Jared Kushner. I suspect that with PeT”s deep connection to his family this position will go to Kushner. However, PeT needs the RNC to get congress to work with him which makes Priebus a logical pick. I do not know much about Bannon, but I have heard he is a stern critic of the establishment. His appointment could increase Trump’s ability to say he is in fact antiestablishment.
It would not surprise me if we see more of the same old Washington elite. PeT promised change in that regard, like any other politician. Though, he is the first president in a very long time who does have the capacity to change the status quo. I know it is strange to hear, but this may be the election which truly changes the American political system for the better.
*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman, and are not those of the Peace Corps or its affiliates.