(For the use of the membership only.)
“I have never worked with a more honorable man than Dan Coats. He oozes integrity out of every pore. He is motivated by a sense of patriotism and duty to the security and the safety of this nation. I would tell anyone to heed his advice and his counsel.” — Gov. Eric Holcomb
COULD IT BE POSSIBLE that the president knows something strategically important about Russia that hasn’t occurred to someone like Dan Coats, however much integrity is oozing from his pores?
Could it be that in the strange world of global diplomacy it makes sense at this time to overlook an oligarchic Putin’s trespasses? Or that, given the current array of threats to our national security, democratic but softly socialist France, Germany and England with their debilitating Muslim immigration policies have ceased to be dependable allies?
Some of us who have followed the Coats political career for three decades (he worked briefly as an insurance attorney) have reason to trust the president, any president, in this matter.
Our friend Tom Huston is a former associate counsel to the president of the United States who served as an officer in the United States Army assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency. Presciently, he had this to say when Coats was first nominated as director of National Intelligence:
“Senator Coats certainly has the competency to preside over the massive intelligence bureaucracy if the objective of his tenure were simply to maintain an even-keeled equanimity among the tribes which constitute the intelligence community. On the other hand, he offers no hope to skeptics of the intelligence community who believe it is bloated, incompetent and institutionally biased against the Trump agenda.”
For Dan Coats is in the habit of believing what people whom he considers important tell him. For instance:
- They told him that gun control would reduce crime. He believed them and was the only sitting Republican senator to vote for the Brady gun-control bill,
- They told him the national debt ceiling was not an absolute. He believed them and voted to raise it 13 times.
- They told him the water-vapor fumes he saw from his seat flying back and forth to Washington were pollution. He believed them and voted in favor in favor of Clean Air Act amendments that crippled coal-energy plants in Indiana.
- They told him farmers needed more money. He believed them and voted against limiting subsidies to millionaire farmers.
- They told him a balanced budget wasn’t important. He believed them and voted against a measure that would have balanced the budget within five years without raising taxes.
- They told him that colleges needed more money. He believed them and voted in favor of maintaining federal subsidies for student loans.
- And, of course, they told him that career politicians were important. He believed them and voted against cutting congressional pay by 15 percent and limiting senatorial terms.
That all might be good for someone fashioning a career as a lobbyist, but it is not so good in a world of historically complex, often anti-intellectual, obtuse and always shifting strategies of force and counter force. Lawyers, you see, are at a disadvantage in a world that observes no law.
John Keegan, the esteemed military historian, wrote a book on that very point.* He said that the only thing that we know for certain about spies is that they spy on other spies. His conclusion:
“Knowledge, the conventional wisdom has it, is power; but knowledge cannot destroy or deflect or damage or even defy an offensive initiative by an enemy unless the possession of knowledge is also allied to objective force. Knowledge of what the enemy can do and of what he intends is never enough to ensure security, unless there is also the power and the will to resist and preferably to forestall him.”
Dan Coats is sitting atop plenty of knowledge about what we should do about this or that. Some of it may be correct, others of it might be wrong and still others of it should be ignored or is irrelevant. The intelligence community is constantly going back and forth about such things.
What is needed, though, is the judgment and will to do something about it — and that responsibility, properly and constitutionally, lies in the Oval Office.
— Craig Ladwig
* John Keegan. Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda. 2003.