It seems very counterintuitive that President Trump would choose a new national security advisor who has a history of bucking his bosses. But that’s a major piece of what army Lt. General H.R. McMaster is all about. He takes the position under the impression that he can build his own staff and speak his mind to Trump. In the past, that has not exactly been a recipe for success. We’ll see how long McMaster lasts.
One of McMaster’s enduring bone fides are from when he rocked the boat bigly about the Vietnam War. After graduating from West Point, he served in Desert Storm and is truly an American hero.
McMaster earned a doctorate in history after Desert Storm and ended up writing a seminal book about Vietnam provocatively titled, “Dereliction of Duty.” It is said to be a must-read for military officers. The basic premise is that the generals who ran the Vietnam War gave in to political pressures and ended up supporting a war strategy they knew would fail. Tough stuff.
Bucking the boss has not worked out well for others who have worked for Trump even when he assures the employee he will have free reign and semi-autonomy, it doesn’t seem to work out that way. (See Eliot Abrams.)
McMaster, who was apparently number three on Trump’s preferred list for National Security Adviser, is someone who may have a different perspective on Russia than the president does. That alone could doom him.
For the record, NSA Michael Flynn was fired for lying about chatting up the Russian ambassador about the sanctions the Obama administration had just laid on them for trying to influence the American election (in Trump’s favor). It’s still unclear if he would still have the job if the media didn’t find out.
NSA candidate retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward said, “Um, yeah, I’m good” when he was being offered the job. Trumpers tried to spin it as Harward preferring to make some money in the private sector and to the usual, “spend time with his family.” The real story is that Haward told friends that being Trump’s NSA is…and I sort of quote… “a sh*t sandwich.”
Whether McMaster can slobber that sandwich with ketchup and choke it down remains to be seen. When asked at the Tuesday press briefing, spokesman Sean Spicer said McMaster would have full control over his staff and the makeup of the National Security Council. Does that mean if McMaster doesn’t want former FOX News analyst K.T. McFarland, she’ll go? Does it mean if McMaster doesn’t want political hack and white-supremacist lite Stephen Bannon off the NSC, does he go?
We shall see. In the meantime, pass the ketchup, tartar sauce and salsa to Lt. Gen. McMaster.