Donald Trump

Defending Our Country's National Security and Well-Being

By John Bellinger
Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 9:35 AM

One year ago this month, I and 49 other former national security officials who had served in senior positions in Republican administrations released a statement saying that Donald Trump “would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Here are several excerpts:

Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President. In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust.

In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander- in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.

Whether or not one views the concerns expressed in this statement to have been warranted, the fact is that Donald Trump now is in the Oval Office. Many of his actions and statements during the last seven months -- and during the last few days and weeks -- have been even more alarming than many expected and have troubled even some of his strongest supporters. Fortunately, the Trump Administration has still managed to attract a number of experienced and principled national security officials to serve in various capacities. As we reflect on the last several weeks, all of us -- whether former government officials, current career officials, members of Congress, members of the judiciary, and other Americans -- must consider individual and collective actions we can take and statements we can make to help and encourage Administration officials to make sound national security decisions and govern in a responsible manner.