Monday, February 20, 2017

Lt. Gen H.R. McMaster's Selection as National Security Adviser is a Surprisingly Good Choice

Since Trump was inaugurated, my twitter feed (which is largely made up of both Republican and Democratic national security types) has largely been filled with outraged commentary from all sides about the disastrous national security and foreign policy decision-making coming out of this Administration.  Until now.  To say that the selection of Lt. General H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser has been applauded would be an understatement.  The reaction has been uniform: shock and surprise that Trump would make such a great choice, and genuine enthusiasm at the selection.

Andy Exum, a former Army officer and former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, offers this assessment:

Let me be as clear as I can be: The president’s selection of H.R. McMaster to be his new national security advisor is unambiguously good news. The United States, and the world, are safer for his decision.
.  .  .
[H] e earned his Ph.D. in history and wrote a best-selling book, Dereliction of Duty. With great foresight, I neglected to read it until three months ago, so the book remains fresh in my memory today. One thing that stands out in the book is the way in which McMaster criticized the poorly disciplined national security decision-making process in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and especially the way in which the Kennedy administration made national-security decisions by a small group of confidants without a robust process to serve the president.
Like Ben Bernanke, a student of the Great Depression brought in to lead the Federal Reserve immediately prior to the Great Recession, McMaster comes to his job having carefully studied and criticized the national-security decision-making process for which he will now be responsible.
I have known McMaster for over a decade and cannot imagine a more decent man in his position today. This job is going to drive him crazy, because he does not suffer fools gladly. Unless he has been given some assurances about both staffing and process, he will struggle in a competition to influence the president—to be the last man in the room when the president makes a key decision.
Read it all here.  General McMaster, by the way, is not just some pointy-headed intellectual General that policy wonks like because he wrote a great book.  His leadership of an armored calvary troop in the Gulf War at  the Battle of 73 Easting is still studied today.

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