In mid-2017, President Donald Trump realized that his appointments for important posts of his administration were not good because he lacked political experience. Sentiments dominated while making these appointments and he initially chose those close and loyal to him.
However, he soon realized that leading a state the size of the US is radically different from managing a private company. So, he began to decide who to keep and who to fire. Among those fired were Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff.
Priebus was the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) when Trump was still a presidential candidate. He had supported Trump and strongly stood by him against some Republicans who tried to oust him as he was not the favorite candidate of the Republican party, which takes pride in the fact that it’s the party of Abraham Lincoln — one of the country’s greatest presidents.
After Priebus was fired, Trump made one of the most important decisions which helped calm the situation. He appointed retired General John Kelly as the new White House chief of staff.
Back then, I had said in an article that appointing a military figure to this post was uncommon, but Trump who had faced cases of leaks to the media thought the appointment of a dignified military figure would control the situation within the White House. Eventually, the number of leaks decreased and serenity gradually returned to the White House.
Trump has realized that leading a state the size of the US is radically different from managing a private companyDr Ahmad al-Farraj
Before his appointment as chief of staff, Kelly was secretary of homeland secretary – a post which Trump had nominated him for after winning the elections. The Homeland Security Department is a new ministry which was established during the presidential term of George W. Bush following the September 2001 terror attacks.
General John Kelly, whose soldier son was killed in Afghanistan, has an impeccable military record and has studied in prestigious universities. He has served as commander of the US Southern Command which is in charge of the US army’s operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. A conservative in his political views, he sees eye to eye with Trump on almost all issues.
However, his work at the White House has not been void of mistakes as he once positively spoke about Robert E. Lee, commander of the army of the Confederate States which separated from the US in 1860 because it opposed the abolition of slavery. This is a very sensitive subject for Americans as it is considered having racist undertones.
Today, there is speculation that Kelly may be fired soon as part of the recent wave of firings, which included that of Rex Tillerson, the former Secretary of State and H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor. If Kelly is fired, Trump would have removed the most important pillars of his administration in a very short time, which is unprecedented. Let’s wait and watch the upcoming developments.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Dr Ahmad al-Farraj is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah daily. He holds a Masters degree in literature from the University of Indiana and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was the Dean of the Arabic Language Institute in King Saud University and a member of the university’s council. He tweets under @amhfarraj.