There is an old saying that allegedly came out of the French Revolution, that revolution, like the god Saturn, devours its own children. It was reportedly uttered by Georges Danton at the trial that preceded his execution and could be applied equally to the demise of Trotsky after the Russian Revolution. It meant that the leaders that drove the dramatic political developments frequently get a taste of power and become resistant to any further change. They often end up turning on their own former followers who have different ideas on how to run the country.
Nearly all the top-level political appointees that have served the Donald Trump administration would describe themselves as conservatives but genuine conservatives as they would have been configured during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower have actually been quite thin on the ground. One recalls how Ike publicly denounced the developing “Military Industrial Complex,” explaining how “We pay for a single fighter plane with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” That was real conservatism speaking. These days, when genuine conservatives cast in that mold do turn up, there is frequently a concerted effort to make them go away.
The latest genuine conservative candidate for high office who is being subjected to character assassination by many of the usual suspects is Colonel Douglas Macgregor, nominated on July 27th by President Trump to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Macgregor, if he can survive the approval process in the Senate where the GOP has a slight majority, will be replacing Richard Grenell, an extremely unpopular chief of mission who did major damage to relations with the host country due to his arrogance and propensity to spread White House propaganda. Germany is, by the way, a major European ally.
The Macgregor nomination has been viciously attacked by CNN, Max Boot of the Washington Post and by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Politico describes him as a “renegade retired colonel” and Congressional Democrats like the hopelessly corrupt Senator Robert Menendez are also piling on while piously insisting that “Macgregor’s comments disqualify him from any government office.” That alone should be enough to convince the casual observer that Macgregor is fully qualified for the job and should be approved.
And if anything else should be required, Mac is a decorated combat-experienced Army officer who won a Bronze Star for valor when he commanded an armored brigade that went into battle against Saddam’s elite forces in the 1991 Gulf War. He and his men destroyed 70 enemy armored vehicles in a major engagement. He has written five books and is a regular contributor to the commentary on the thoughtful end of conservative media, by which I mean Tucker Carlson. He also reportedly speaks regularly to Donald Trump, so the presumption is that he is trusted by the president and could actually have some positive influence over policy.
And as for his practical qualifications to interact well with the host country, Macgregor is a West Point graduate who speaks German fluently and studied German military and political history at the University of Virginia, where he earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. His advanced study focused on the World War Two fighting between the then Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
So, let’s review some of the genuine good old-fashioned American interests based conservative principles that Macgregor stands for. Bear in mind that his language is often salty, blunt and to the point, and he rarely worries about being politically correct. He is highly critical of orthodox military thinking as exemplified by the “failed” Iraq and Afghan Wars, which he fought in, and he refers to the generals and defense contractors as components of a “self-licking ice cream cone.”
Macgregor sees no national security justification for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Syria and he has also argued that the United States has no compelling national interest to remain in Iraq. He believes that NATO is no longer useful and that the United States should not be defending a prosperous Europe from a Russia that poses no real threat, a view shared by many all across the political spectrum both in the U.S. and Europe.
Macgregor has also observed correctly that an expansionistic Turkey rather than Iran poses the real threat to stability in the Middle East and he doubts whether Iran wants to attack anyone. He has described political ex-General David Petraeus as a “useful fool” who serves as a mouthpiece for pro-war politicians and the media and has criticized the Clinton Administration’s intervention against Serbian forces during the Kosovo War in the 1990s to “put, essentially, a Muslim drug mafia in charge of that country. These people have never been our friends. They aren’t ever going to be our friends. They are incurably hostile. I’m talking about the Sunni Islamists.” He has likewise condemned the Obama overthrow of the Libyan government, turning a prosperous and stable nation into a terrorist haunted hellhole.
Macgregor will be tasked with restoring the balance in the German-American relationship at a time when 12,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from the country. Trump did not inform the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in advance of the decision and there are reports that there were a number of nasty phone calls with Trump characteristically hurling insults and accusations. Macgregor will be tasked with fixing that even though he has made it clear that nearly all U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Germany because he believes that there is no risk that Russia will attack anyone beyond its current borders in Eastern Europe.
Against all the positives relating to Macgregor, the critics have compiled a list of what they regard as his failings. He has called illegal immigration from Mexico a national security threat being encouraged by the Democratic Party to change the U.S. demographics in its favor. As a response, he has called for martial law along the border if required to stop the immigrants and he would enforce it by shooting intruders if necessary. Regarding Germany itself, he has been a critic of Merkel’s opening her borders to waves of illegal immigrants. One might note that these are essentially standard conservative positions, with the exception of the shooting, that won the presidency for Trump in 2016. Merkel’s open immigration policies have also been widely condemned by both Germans and other Europeans.
Macgregor is skeptical of Russiagate and believes that the Russian intervention to seize parts of Ukraine was a predictable defensive reaction to a coup engineered by the United States. Max Boot, born in Russia and Jewish, is a neocon and no friend of the Kremlin. He interprets Macgregor’s unwillingness to demonize Russia as “a disquieting tendency to echo Vladimir Putin’s propaganda,” which it is not. It is a realistic assessment of the dangerous situation in Eastern Europe engineered by Boot and his neocon friends.
But the real issue that the critics have with Macgregor inevitably come down to the Israel/Jewish agenda, a hurdle that is also bedeviling the nomination of William Ruger, another antiwar critic of Middle Eastern foreign policy, who has been nominated as ambassador to Afghanistan. Per Boot “[Macgregor] even thinks that Germany has gone too far in making penance for Nazi crimes,” citing a 2018 comment by the colonel: “There’s sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone for the sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany. And Germany played a critical role in central Europe in terms of defending and preserving Western civilization.”
The ADL has expressed “deep concern” over the Macgregor appointment due to his “problematic remarks,” which it also describes as “highly troubling.” They have expressed their concern by way of a letter to Chairman Jim Risch and also to senior Democratic Party Ranking Member Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They accused Macgregor of having “downplay[ed] the importance of commemorating the Holocaust era, [and] exaggerating the views and influence of ‘people who call themselves neocons.’”
Of course, the neocons are fundamentally a Jewish movement that inter alia engages in the promotion of perpetual U.S. engagement in the Middle East on behalf of Israel. Ironically, while Macgregor is opposed to military intervention nearly everywhere, he is well-liked and even admired by the Israeli military officers and other officials that he met with on numerous visits to Israel both as an Army officer and since that time. He supports “defensible borders” for the Jewish state and has called the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “long overdue.”
But Macgregor’s actual credentials come up against the Jewish suffering requirement. ADL Chief Executive Jonathan Greenblatt argued that “We need an American ambassador in Berlin who will forcefully push back against antisemitism and the minimizing of the Holocaust, not somebody whose past statements indicate that he might encourage those hateful ideas.” The ADL letter also complained that Macgregor’s apparent views “…would also place him at odds with the overwhelming bipartisan consensus of Congress, as demonstrated by legislation passed in this Congressional session with the encouragement of ADL such as the Never Again Education Act as well as House and Senate resolutions that condemned antisemitic tropes about dual loyalty or Jewish power.”
It is indeed interesting how Jewish groups exercise their power freely and openly demonstrate dual loyalty when it suits them and then pretend that they are both powerless and loyal Americans when someone challenges them. ADL and other organizations like it are in the “what have they done for the Jews” business. Continuing to tighten the screws on Germany to make reparations for Israel and the diaspora a perpetual gift that keeps on giving is one of their key objectives. The Never Again Education Act is little more than a government subsidized program to make sure that American school children are fed an approved diet of propaganda about what happened in Europe between 1939 and 1945. It makes Jews perpetual victims that always have to be protected and given special dispensation by the powers that be.
In this case, having an ambassador in Germany who just might not spend his time catering to Jewish interests by “forcefully push[ing] back against antisemitism and the minimizing of the holocaust” is something that must be nipped in the bud by ADL. That is too bad, as there are bilateral issues like trade and defense involving Germany and the U.S. that impact on all Americans and Douglas Macgregor would appear to be the right man to deal with them. But as is all too often the case in the United States, the loudest voices, like ADL, are generally the ones that Congress pays attention to.
Philip Giraldi, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.