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Robert Charles

America watches as activist judges issue rambling, misguided opinion

Robert Charles, The U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, has issued one of the most ill-conceived, poorly reasoned opinions in memory, even for that notoriously activist Circuit.  It ties federal law in inscrutable knots, misses big points, and blurs little ones.  It will not sit well with most Americans, for good reason. Whether motivated by

Trump should reverse Obama and Kerry’s 11th-hour sneak attack

Robert Charles, As they left office, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry pulled a fast one. They violated the trust of the American people, showed contempt for the electoral process and upended traditional respect for congressional holds on federal money. As Americans gathered around their television sets on Inauguration Day, Kerry’s State Department,

Elephant in the Room – Near Flawless Inauguration

Robert Charles, A final word on the recent inauguration – something no one noticed, and everyone should. Back and forth flew media commentary on the president’s speech content, tone and tempo, timing of rain, numbers on the Mall, meaning of this and that, historical tidbits, vocal protesters and leftovers of a vigorous campaign. Missed was

Inexplicable Irony, Indefensible Clemency

Robert Charles, Let me get this right … President Obama believes that WikiLeaks is a Russian front or facilitator, complicit in promoting President-elect Donald Trump’s recent election win over Hillary Clinton, who mishandled classified material, left her private server open to hacking, and ended up with her chief of staff’s email hacked and released by

To preview the Trump presidency, look at the confirmation hearings for his cabinet picks

Robert Charles, Retired General James Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense, capped a series of head-turning confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill this week. Early in the week, nominees presented a stark contrast to Senate Democrats. On one side, Americans saw well-prepared, highly dignified appointees appear before elected officials from both parties. On

Secretary of State pick: What every American should know about Rex Tillerson

Robert Charles, Trump has done it again.  Bang. Another fascinating, deep, insightful choice – Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.  What should every American know about this selection?  A few things they may not have heard yet.  Exxon’s Chairman and CEO, Rex Tillerson is another novel choice, as edgy in diplomacy as he is

Robert Charles: Pearl Harbor – at 75

Robert Charles, What can you say about the day, December 7, 1941?  Now, 75 years later, it “lives in infamy” – as Franklin Delano Roosevelt projected.  That date also represents America’s resolve to fight back against anything – even an unconscionable, unprovoked attack on our soil – and decisively win.  The obvious parallel is to

Trump’s Selective Intransigence

Robert Charles, President-elect Trump appears inclined to use the principle of “selective intransigence,” an element of game theory and powerful tool in diplomacy and war. Some use it consciously, others by instinct. Either way, the outcome is the same. It works, more often than not – if well-grounded, oriented, and deftly applied. In American history,

Trump’s Way Ahead – A Strong Cabinet

Robert Charles, As wider Cabinet choices are made by President-elect Trump, optimism should grow. Beyond national security, the incoming team has a deep bench to draw from. Perhaps missed in the media hoopla over national security appointments is the enormous range of talent that may become “The Trump Administration.” If the “best and brightest” step

Trump and America’s Navy: Dilemmas, Strategy, and Optimism

Robert Charles, Thinking about the new Trump Navy, in context of a totally rebuilt military, less focused on intervention than deterrence, one immediately faces dilemmas. How do we prepare for a two decade reconstruction of diminished and necessary capabilities, while reforming a slow, unresponsive and costly procurement process? How do we reestablish deterrence among Big

Trump Hallmark – Sound Cabinet Choices

Robert Charles, If past is prelude, America has a lot to look forward to. Sound cabinet choices across the board by President-elect Trump seem to be emerging, and with regularity. Controversial, at a time when everything is controversial, perhaps. But scrolling back the rhetoric, these choices are rational, thoughtful, experienced and – in a word

Trump Mandate: Save the US Navy

Robert Charles, There is an element of politics embedded in policy, no getting around it. That is, at least since Andrew Jackson, how democracy works. Presidents have a constitutional right to appoint their choices to top posts – subject to Senate confirmation. More often than not, those choices come from the president’s own party. However,