The eyes of the nation were on Wisconsin once again because of the August primary elections, principally because Paul Ryan was being challenged in the First Congressional District. The challenger, Paul Nehlen, was widely perceived as a Trumpkin, even though Trump himself had finally been coerced by the party into endorsing Ryan at a rally in Green Bay mere days before the primary. Nehlen enjoyed endorsements from the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter, but was nonetheless crushed by Ryan, who won with more than 70% of the vote.
However, there was another primary race which deserved at least as much attention.
In the Eighth Congressional District, a three-way contest developed for the chance to replace the retiring Reid Ribble. The contest was handily won (also with over 70% of the vote) by Mike Gallagher, a 32-year-old native of Green Bay with an impressive resume for his age.
After graduating from Princeton, Gallagher entered the Marine Corps and spent seven years on active duty. He served in Iraq, where he was responsible for the gathering and analysis of human intelligence (information from human sources is known as Humint, as opposed to signals intelligence, or Sigint, and electronic intelligence, or Elint). A fluent Arabic speaker, his last duty station in Iraq was the town of al-Qaim on the Syrian border. There he helped hand out school books and soccer balls to children who, just a year before, had been too terrified of al-Qaeda goons to go to school.
He was convinced at the time that his job was over, that we had won. This was before the rise of Daesh and their invasion of Iraq. The town is now controlled by Daesh.
From there, he went to work for General Petraeus at CENTCOM, where he acquired some sense of the high-level, strategic thinking behind the tactical measures he’d earlier been involved with. He also worked with the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and other federal agencies, and eventually he was the Middle East point man for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
From there, he was tapped to become national security advisor to Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign. He moved back to the Green Bay area and went to work for an energy firm when the campaign folded.
Gallagher and I immediately found a common chord when I mentioned an old novel, Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (ignore the rather campy movie; read the book). Heinlein imagined a future society in which the human rights of all residents were respected, but civil rights, the obligations of citizenship such as voting and holding office, were limited to military veterans. The theory was that those people who had demonstrated a willingness to place their bodies between their society and those who threaten it would exercise those rights more seriously than the others.
It is in this spirit that Gallagher wishes to extend his service from the military to the policy sphere; it is why he is running for office. In this, he is typical of a number of recent and current candidates and office-holders, such as Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. By one count, 37 congressional office seekers this year have either a military or law enforcement background and no prior political experience.
Unsurprisingly, Gallagher’s strongest interests are issues related to defense and foreign affairs.
In the Middle East, he sees the key to be America’s relationship with Israel, and he sees as crucial the growing alignment of interests between the Sunni Arab states and Israel in the face of the dual jihadi and Iranian threats. This alignment is being inhibited by Obama’s growing rapprochement with the Russians and Iranians.
American national security is dependent upon economic security. The manufacturing capacity which allowed the United States to be the “arsenal of democracy” in the Second World War has been severely eroded. Governmental and market policies which will encourage repatriation of capital and reinvestment in the United States are thus vital to our national security.
Gallagher also sees the devolution of power from the federal government back to the states as being vital if we are to preserve and maintain the Constitutional order on which the country was founded.
Gallagher emphasizes that the chief difference between him and his Democratic opponent, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, is that, unlike Nelson, Gallagher is not a career politician and does not wish to become one. Nelson’s sole career path has been public office (he is considered a Democratic favorite to challenge Scott Walker in the 2018 gubernatorial election).
A citizen soldier in the proud tradition of the Roman Cincinnati, Gallagher wishes only to serve his country a bit longer in a different capacity, and then to return to the private sector.
May we have many more of them.