Rational Security: The 'Mission Admonished' Edition

By Jen Patja Howell
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 12:01 PM

This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott waited for a big shoe to drop by talking over the week's big national security news, including:

  • “What Else Can I Get Away With on Fifth Avenue...” Donald Trump is expected to become the first former president to be indicted on criminal charges this week—if, that is, local authorities are not deterred by the public protests Trump’s supporters are preparing to hold in New York City at his request. What will this move mean for the country? And how might it end? 
  • “Territorial Refute.” After weeks of avoiding the issue, likely 2024 Republican presidential contender Ron Desantis adopted the position that supporting Ukraine—which he described as being involved in a “territorial dispute”—is not a vital U.S. interest, bringing him into alignment with former President Trump and signaling a strong lean towards isolationism in the 2024 Republican field. What will this mean for the likely candidates? And for U.S. support for Ukraine moving forward?
  • “The ‘Blood, Treasure, and Regret’ Anniversary.” This past week marked the 20th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which set out to remove a dictator and welcome a new wave of democracy in the Middle East—but has instead resulted in an Iraq that is still recovering from years of sectarian violence and increasingly under Iran’s influence. What is the legacy of the decision to invade? And what does it mean for U.S. foreign policy moving forward?

For object lessons, Alan recommended the new spy (lawyer) thriller TV series "The Recruit." Quinta endorsed two Iraq-related movies: the comedy "In the Loop" and the Errol Morris documentary "The Unknown Known," a profile of Donald Rumsfeld and spiritual successor to Morris's classic documentary "The Fog of War." Scott threw in one more documentary for good measure—“Control Room," about engagements between CENTCOM and Al Jazeera around the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq—before urging everyone to read an amazing report in the New York Times documenting new evidence that supporters of Ronald Reagan might have urged Iranian revolutionaries to keep U.S. hostages in custody in order to hurt President Jimmy Carter's chances at reelection.