By Wayne Allensworth
The president has fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The question is, “Why now?”
Esper had earlier resisted the Commander-in-Chief when the president brought up the possibility of invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military to quell the wave of AntiFa/BLM riots that swept over large parts of the country. Trump wasn’t happy with what he likely saw as Esper’s disloyalty.
Media reports indicated that Esper did not expect to stay on whether Trump or Biden were president, and some sources maintained that he had already written a resignation letter. At the same time, politico.com reported that “defense establishment figures” were urging Esper to stay on during a “transition of power.”
Esper, however, is out and Christopher Miller, the director of the National Anti-Terrorism Center, will take over as acting secretary.
It could be that Trump was simply lashing out at a disloyal subordinate.
Another possible explanation is that Trump is anticipating more “mostly peaceful protests” and wants Esper out of the way in case he feels the military is needed.
There could, however, be yet another explanation for Trump firing the defense secretary at this time—a scenario in which an anti-Trump Pentagon leadership might consider supporting “president elect” Joe Biden by “escorting” Trump from the White House in a force majeure situation.
Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.