Monday, February 20, 2017

H.R. McMaster

Of all things I expected from the Trump administration, naming the most interesting living American general as his National Security Adviser had to be at the bottom of the list. H.R. McMaster is both an important military historian and a successful field commander, plus he has repeatedly gotten in trouble for his forceful criticism of the Army brass and indeed the whole culture of the U.S. military. It's certainly a bold choice. If what Trump wanted was to grab some attention in a positive or at least potentially positive way, well, he certainly got mine.

Will McMaster be a good National Security Adviser? I have no idea. It may be that he lacks the political skills necessary to survive in such a job. It may be that circumstances in the White House right now are such that nobody could shine in that role. But I have confidence that McMaster will give serious, thoughtful, well-informed advice, and that he will not try to drag us into crazy wars, which is frankly the main thing I am looking for right now. Because Trump's own views seem to be all over the map on war and foreign intervention, I worry that he could be steered into a stupid war by bad advice. I don't think McMaster will give that kind of advice. So far as I can tell the difference between McMaster and his predecessor Flynn is night and day on every important question. What sort of president appoints both of them?

McMaster's reputation outside the military rests largely on Dereliction of Duty, a book that grew out of his dissertation and severely criticizes the military leadership for not resisting Lyndon Johnson's approach to the Vietnam War. If presented with the same sort of choice, will McMaster take a stand against a government he serves in? I wonder.
First, to study war as the best means of preventing it.

–H.R. McMaster, Veterans' Day speech at Georgetown University, 2014

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