February 14, 2017

At a military conference Tuesday, Gen. Tony Thomas, head of the military's Special Operations Command, expressed concerns about the government's state of "turmoil." "Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil," Thomas said. "I hope they sort it out soon because we're a nation at war." When asked about his remarks later, Thomas told The New York Times, "As a commander, I'm concerned our government be as stable as possible."

Thomas' comments came on the heels of Michael Flynn's resignation as national security adviser late Monday after it emerged Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his conversation with a Russian ambassador. And Flynn's departure was just the latest in a string of events that's left Washington shaken, The New York Times reported:

In record time, the 45th president has set off global outrage with a ban on travelers from Muslim countries, fired his acting attorney general for refusing to defend the ban, and watched as federal courts swiftly moved to block the policy, calling it an unconstitutional use of executive power.

The president has angrily canceled a summit meeting with the Mexican president, hung up on Australia’s prime minister, authorized a commando raid that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL member, repeatedly lied about the existence of millions of fraudulent votes cast in the 2016 election, and engaged in Twitter wars with senators, a sports team owner, a Hollywood actor, and a major department store chain. His words and actions have generated almost daily protests around the country. [The New York Times]

"If you had no-drama Obama, you've got all-drama, all-the-time Trump," veteran Republican strategist John Feehery told The New York Times.

Read more on how Trump is rattling Washington at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

February 2, 2017

President Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon apparently once told a historian that he thinks a "massive new war" is on the horizon. Historian David Kaiser, who worked with Bannon on Generation Zero, a political documentary released in 2010, told Time that when he interviewed Bannon for the film he was "taken aback" when Bannon — now Trump's right-hand man — "began to argue that the current phase of history foreshadowed" an impending war.

Bannon's basis for the theory was The Fourth Turning, the same book that inspired the documentary Bannon directed. The book suggests that history comes in repetitive four-phase cycles that last, on average, about 80 years. In each cycle, generations "have fallen into crisis, embraced institutions, rebelled against those institutions, and forgotten the lessons of the past — which invites the next crisis," Time explained.

Bannon interpreted the 2008 financial crisis as an indication that this cycle is nearing its end. "I remember him saying, 'Well, look, you have the American revolution, and then you have the Civil War, which was bigger than the revolution. And you have the Second World War, which was bigger than the Civil War,'" Kaiser told Time. "He even wanted me to say that on camera, and I was not willing." Kaiser noted that, overall, Bannon seemed to have a "rather severe outlook on what our nation is going through."

Since Trump assumed office, Bannon has played a key role in concocting Trump's torrent of executive orders, one of which includes a ban on people from seven Muslim-majority nations entering the U.S. Recently, Bannon was given a seat on the National Security Council, which The New York Times noted puts Bannon "over the president's top military and intelligence advisers."

Head over to Time for more on "the second most powerful man in the world." Becca Stanek

January 12, 2017

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump's defense secretary nominee, said at his confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believes the world order is "under the biggest attack since World War II." "That's from Russia, from terrorist groups, and with what China is doing in the South China Sea," Mattis said, acknowledging that the U.S. must "recognize the reality" of what we are dealing with when it comes to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mattis said he believes Putin is trying to "break" NATO and said the U.S. should maintain the "strongest possible relationship" with the treaty organization, diverging sharply from Trump's campaign rhetoric.

To face these attacks, Mattis emphasized that "deterrence is critical." He said that requires the "strongest military" — which he thinks the U.S. lacks right now. However, in a break from Trump's publicly expressed doubts, Mattis said he has a "very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community."

Listen to Mattis' take on the state of the world order below. Becca Stanek

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