WASHINGTON — Within the halls of the Pentagon, the decision to invite Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president who just happens to be his son-in-law, on a military trip to Iraq was heralded as an unconventional — yet brilliant — political move.
After all, Kushner, perhaps more than any other White House adviser is responsible for a seemingly limitless portfolio of matters, both foreign and domestic – Middle East peace, the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-a-Lago, reforming the entirety of the federal government, and combating opioid addiction to name a few. And while past administrations depended on the National Security Council or a coterie of long-time political operatives, the early days of the Trump administration suggests that to reach Trump, one must travel through the36-year-old man married to the president’s daughter, herself now a senior aide.
Given the Trump White House’s thwarting the conventional chains of command, the Pentagon has decided to go along, in the hopes that the face time — coupled with the experience of traveling to the front lines of the war against ISIS — will become leverage in the discussions about the way ahead.
“You have to understand where the levers are. You don’t have to like it, but that is where they are,” a defense official told BuzzFeed News. “It’s in our interest.”
Kushner, who has no political, military or diplomatic experience, got a crash course on the war from the highest-ranking military leader, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The trip came with all the trappings of military showmanship — military aircraft shuttled Kushner above the Iraqi capital; he spoke with men and women in uniform serving in often rustic conditions. The White House confirmed on Monday that he'd even met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The Joint Staff was quick to tweet out pictures Monday of the two together on the ground: