Dr. Peter Mansoor, the right-hand man to Gen. David Petraeus during the Iraq War, says he would never serve in the Trump administration under any circumstances.
Mansoor, a former Army colonel who now teaches military history at Ohio State University, told Business Insider in a phone interview that while he is willing to give the President-elect the benefit of the doubt initially, he remains firm in his stance as a so-called ‘Never Trump’ Republican.
“I was ‘Never Trump’ before and the election has not changed that stance,” said Mansoor, the former executive officer and top advisor for Petraeus during the Iraq ‘Surge.’ “He has said too many things that eat away at my ethical and moral foundation that would enable me to serve under him.”
To be clear, Mansoor hasn’t been asked to serve in the Trump White House. But it’s an interesting admission to outright reject any such offer, since the next president will surely be calling on people to serve in top positions within his cabinet and the Pentagon — which would certainly be bolstered by Mansoor’s expertise, having served as an Army officer for 26 years.
Interestingly, another ‘Never Trump’ Republican, who like Mansoor and more than 100 national security experts signed an open letter opposing Trump in March, said he would consider such an offer, rationalizing it as serving the office of the President, rather than the man.
“I would very seriously consider a request to serve in the Trump administration,” Michael Auslin, director of Japan Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the forthcoming book “The End of the Asian Century,” told Business Insider, because “at some point politics ends and policy begins. It’s up to Trump himself to make that transition from politics to policy.”
Mansoor does not hold that same view.
“That’s [Auslin’s] prerogative to do it for what he perceives to be the good of the country,” Mansoor said. “But I think for the good of the country, we should hold candidates accountable for the language they use on the campaign trail and [Donald Trump’s] went beyond the pale.”
Now that Trump has secured victory, reports have suggested he could tap advisers such as retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn or Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to prominent positions within the Pentagon. And The Daily Beast reported this week that the new administration could have trouble filling spots in the national security bureaucracy, citing similar concerns voiced by Never Trump Republicans.
But Mansoor, despite his reluctance to serve, believes that in the end there will be little problem finding willing candidates.
“I think they will be able to find people. You might debate their qualifications and we’ll judge their performance once they’re in place. But the idea that he can’t staff his administration, that’s an unfounded concern,” he said. “The concern is over the quality of people that they will get.”
He also added that anyone who signed letters opposing Trump — around 150 Republican national security experts and officials — probably wouldn’t get an invitation anyway.
“I think anyone who signed that letter shouldn’t be under any illusions that they’re gonna be offered anything in a Trump administration,” Mansoor said.
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