When Donald Trump takes the oath today, he will also take responsibility for a longer list of national security problems than any recent president has had to face. He will soon discover that they do not yield easily to campaign slogans, tweets or verbal thunderbolts.
Dealing with these problems will require marshaling and coordinating diplomatic, military, intelligence and economic tools in dozens of agencies across the federal government. Watching this process through half a dozen U.S. administrations, I noticed what many other veterans have: Operating as we traditionally have, the U.S. has trouble dealing simultaneously and effectively with more than three or four of these problems at a time. Some would argue fewer.
Trump’s bombastic claims and ever-shifting narrative make it impossible to discern his real priorities. We can only hope that cool heads in his entourage will be asking what demands immediate concentrated attention and what can hold a bit?