Trump should recognize that the use of military force always engenders the significant possibility of escalation into a larger, more prolonged and more deadly conflicts. Wars frequently erupt from miscalculations on both sides, and can rapidly spiral out of control — an especially dangerous risk with nuclear-armed opponents. The serious interagency debates that presidents have typically led before decisions about the use of force are designed precisely to minimize the chances for such miscalculations by carefully considering all other options before war. Trump’s expansive use of military power in his first 100 days has come with few dangerous consequences, further raising its allure. But military power is not a panacea. As he becomes a more seasoned commander-in-chief, Trump must also learn to value restraint and to integrate all of the elements of national power. Failing to see the dangers of the continuing reflexive use of military force will set the nation on a path of grave and unnecessary risk.
Arguments among his commanders and advisors did not help the situation. By late 1942 Hitler's subordinates had split into cliques that competed for increasingly scarce resources, while he remained the final arbiter of all disputes. His senior commanders felt free to contact him directly; they knew that the last man to brief him often got what he wanted. At other times, though, Hitler would cling to a decision stubbornly, regardless of its merits. His decision to attack in the Ardennes in 1944 is one good example: his commanders tried, both directly and indirectly, to persuade him to adopt a more realistic plan, without success.