White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was wrong when she stated, Friday, "If you want to get into a debate with the four-star Marine general, I think that's something highly inappropriate."
Sanders made that comment in challenge to Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., for her ongoing disagreement with retired four-star Marine general and current White House chief of staff John Kelly. Wilson and Kelly have disagreed about the nature of a phone call President Trump made earlier this week to the family of a fallen soldier. Sanders comments follow Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' rebuke, Thursday, of media questioning over U.S. casualties in Niger.
Yet while I am more sympathetic to Kelly than clown-hat Wilson, both are public figures free to debate. Wilson has never been in Kelly's chain of command, but by virtue of her U.S. citizenship, she has the right to debate Kelly if she so desires.
That said, I suspect that Kelly would be more open to debate than Sanders is suggesting. After all, the Marine Corps has long prioritized innovation by its officers. As Kelly full well knows, it was marine innovation and adaptability that allowed the Corps to empower the 2006 Sunni awakening in Anbar, Iraq. In that situation, Kelly and other officers recognized that they would not be able to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq unless they could mobilize Anbar's Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda.
Indeed, I know from my own grandfather, a retired U.S. Marine, that most Marines don't mind debate as long as it is conducted honestly.