flyangler

McMaster and Trump

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Micheal Leeden at PJMedia writes that personnel lead to policy, rather than the reverse. He explains the issues regarding McMaster.

 

The McMaster Turmoil

 

H.R. McMaster, currently under attack from conservative critics, is best known for writing a book about the Vietnam War in which he put the blame primarily on the Johnson administration officials, but also excoriated military leaders for failing to challenge policies they knew, or should have known, were misguided. So no one should be surprised that the national security adviser is not inclined to salute and carry out instructions from the Oval Office, but challenges President Trump on matters ranging from personnel decisions to Iran policy.

 

The two categories are closely linked, since personnel IS policy, and the ongoing purge of NSC officials clearly contains a political dimension, which has been extensively documented. McMaster has recently fired several senior NSC officials—Rich Higgins, Ezra Cohen and Derek Harvey—who reportedly favored a tougher line on Iran than McMaster does. Their replacements come from the CIA, which traditionally has taken a pessimistic view of chances for changing the nature of the Tehran regime.

 

The political conflict extends well beyond the narrow issue of Iran policy. McMaster has instructed his staff to avoid using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” and tried to remove it from the president’s recent speech in Warsaw, Poland (Trump put it back in). According to a recent rumor, the NSC declined to schedule a talk on radical Islamic terrorism by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, one of the country’s most respected authorities, reportedly because one of McMaster’s appointees, Mustafa Javed Ali, accused her of “Islamophobia.” McMaster’s predecessor, General Mike Flynn, advocated waging ideological war against “radical Islamists,” supporting moderate Muslims, and putting the United States firmly behind Muslim governments, such as Indonesia and Egypt, that fought the jihadis. McMaster does not agree.

 

This ideological component goes hand in hand with McMaster’s refusal to fire holdovers from the Obama NSC, and with his widely reported remarks to staff, arguing that there really are no holdovers, that everyone at the NSC is a professional civil servant, and that everyone is trying to do the best possible job. It’s a happy thought, but not widely shared in Washington. Those calling for his removal ask why Obama appointees are protected, while Trump loyalists are shown the gate.

 

Finally, as his critics have pointed out, McMaster not only challenges the president’s policy views, he has been known to disregard explicit instructions on personnel (Trump wanted Ezra Cohen to remain at his post as NSC intelligence chief, for example), and despite explicit presidential unhappiness with McMaster’s advocacy of sending large numbers of American troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, he continues to call for it, while he fights Trump’s wishes to declare Iran in violation of the nuclear deal, thereby ending the agreement.

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I want to see McMaster stay, but there sure is a fight going on.

 

Trump shouldn't have used the word Islamic in his speech, because that means all Muslims. He should have said Islamist, which is different. Words coming from a President really do matter, but he doesn't care.

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My bigger concern than -ic vs -ist is McMaster holding over NSC staffer from the Obama years. He can call them "career" rather than "holdover" but the reality is, after eight years of any admin, those who are in place are highly likely to reflect the ideology and world-view of the admin that put them in place. Conversely, staffers with differing views are not likely to have lasted in high position for multiple years without removing themselves or being removed. 

 

People like to blow raspberries at the concept of "the deep state" but it is real for the reason articulated above. You rise in the ranks, whether on the NSC or in the military or in the agencies, but towing the boss' line which more likely than not means sharing his ideology and world-view. I reject the notion that "professionals" are apolitical and can support and serve any party's president equally well. In a politicized system, you rise by managing up and impressing the political appointees who are your ultimate bosses. Over a 2-term administration, that means the top ranks of "career professionals" are going to be those who most agreed with the administration that put them in place. To suggest otherwise is foolish. 

 

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Right Wing talking points aside I also hear that a lot of the people that Mcmaster has issue with are Conspiracy theorists obsessed with plots by the Deep State and Radical Muslims within our own Government,

which sound a LOT like it means TRUMP appointees.

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58 minutes ago, fish'nmagician said:

tom did you write that?

or is it a C&P?

 

#4 above, I wrote that. You should know by now that I am in the habit of putting anything pasted from another source in italics and/or indented to delineate from my own words. See original post #1 above for an example but note that I named the author and the source in my lede.

 

I have refrained from pasting with URLs intact because of Tim's bots throwing such posts into instant moderation queue. If you want to find the source, just copy the first few words and drop them into google, it will come up. 

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1 hour ago, fish'nmagician said:

Right Wing talking points aside I also hear that a lot of the people that Mcmaster has issue with are Conspiracy theorists obsessed with plots by the Deep State and Radical Muslims within our own Government,

which sound a LOT like it means TRUMP appointees.

 

That could be valid. The guys McMaster has fired, mentioned in #1 above, are of the hardline type. 

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Without a doubt, people are policy.  

 

What TomKaz posted sounds a lot like the usual touchstones for right-wing agitation; "Islam" has to be pronounced with contempt, often and loudly, because it makes the base feel secure.  It may do nothing for working with Muslims in general, but boy does Trump's base love hearing it. The President is also said to be eager to find Iran in violation of the nuclear agreement. It's not only McMaster's opposition to such a determination, the entire security machine agrees with him. Ah, but Steve Bannon knows, as does the President, that undoing anything Obama did is a crowd pleaser.  

 

There is no prospect whatsoever of reassembling the coalition of nations that made sanctions work. There will, therefore, be no new deal.  So what? If Obama made a deal, then undoing it will play well with that vast army of Obama haters. If Iran resumes nuclear weapons development, well, they won't get used during the time of the Trump administration, so it doesn't matter. 

 

President Trump selected McMaster, I think, precisely because he has a sterling reputation for integrity and intellectual rigor, which was needful after Gen. Flynn had to be fired for lying to the Vice President. Now that intellectual rigor is grating on the President.  He's not hearing what he wants to hear. As usual, that offends him. Gen. Kelly's arrival is probably going to protect McMaster for awhile, but my $0.02 is that McMaster is living on borrowed time and Kelly will soon find himself being undercut, and ultimately discarded. 

 

It's the same problem as President Bush had, those damn generals telling him what is politically inconvenient. 

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Mully - I will bet you $1 that Bannon leaves the WH before McMaster. 

 

Beyond that, find a president, or any politician, who does not speak to their base, regularly, loudly and without remorse. 

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