Richard A. Clarke, a prominent counterterrorism expert who has served under almost every president since Reagan, has long been convinced that the worse president in his lifetime was George W. Bush — even through much of the early period of President Donald Trump’s administration.
But on Monday, The Daily Beast published new comments from Clarke suggesting that he is growing less sure of this assessment.
“He’s eviscerating the government. He’s eviscerating capabilities that we need,” Clarke told the Beast. “And it’s not as though if the Democrats win the 2020 election you just turn those capabilities back on. The people go away, the skill sets go away, the capabilities atrophy. And it will take years to undo the damage.”
Recent reports suggest that the Trump administration is sharply cutting programs set up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to monitor terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction — programs which took years to build and could not easily be reinstated overnight.
“You’ve got to wonder if the cumulative effect of a million bad decisions equates to the disasters caused by one big bad decision that Bush made,” said Clarke, referring to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. Clarke, who opposed the Iraq war and the Bush national security policy from the start, now fears that the long-term consequences of Trump’s national security decisions could prove to be even more ruinous.