FLORIDA–(ENEWSPF)–February 20, 2017
Donald Trump flanked by Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster (L) and Keith Kellogg (Source: ABC News)
Donald Trump found a way to get around the problem of ex-generals and admirals refusing to take his call. After reports that former Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down an offer of the national security position, and other names were rumored to take themselves out of the running before they could even get an offer, Donald Trump fastened on the one sure way to fill the role: Give it to an active duty officer.
President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser on Monday, calling him “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”
McMaster genuinely is highly regarded, both as an officer and a historian. Of particular interest is McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty that covers the early years of the war in Vietnam. The theme of the book is that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had little respect for the existing joint chiefs and the “old warriors” who had served under Dwight Eisenhower. Johnson in particular leaned on Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.
Defense Secretary McNamara, says McMaster, “would dominate the [Vietnam] policy-making process because of three mutually reinforcing factors: the Chiefs’ ineffectiveness as an advisory group, Johnson’s profound insecurity, and the president’s related unwillingness to entertain divergent views on the subject of Vietnam….He wanted advisors who would tell him what he wanted to hear….McNamara could sense the president’s desires, and determined to do all that he could to fulfill them.”
The question for McMaster will be what he learned from his study of McNamara. Was it how telling the man in charge what he wants to hear can endanger the nation, or how filling those desires leads to a comfortable position of power?
McMaster has a reputation of “not suffering fools gladly,” which would seem to be a recipe for one unhappy NSC.
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