U.S. Army Lt. General Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster is President Trump’s new National Security Advisor after General Michael Flynn was unceremoniously dumped for lying to V.P. Pence about his communications with the Russians during the campaign. This is a big “told ya so” moment for those who warned of Flynn’s unsuitability at the outset and a huge relief for those who take our national security seriously.
H.R. McMaster is, hands down, the best possible pick for this position whether Trump realizes it or not. In fact, it a choice that is better for America than it is for Trump. McMaster has no problem with standing up to authority…or authoritarianism for that matter. It may be interesting to some to learn that McMaster literally wrote the book on it. In 1997, McMaster published “Dereliction of Duty” as his University of North Carolina Ph.D. thesis. The book is a critique of officers in the Vietnam era and their failure to stand up to and challenge civilian leaders regarding the execution of war strategies. The book posits that it is the duty of military leaders to direct and educate civilians in policy when it comes to war and that lessons not learned are destined to be repeated. The book is highly regarded at the Pentagon and is considered a seminal work currently on the suggested reading list for colonels and generals for the Marine Corps.
General McMaster is also an active duty officer. This distinction may seem unimportant to some but it is significant. For two reasons: First, and this may or may not seem like a small thing, but, when one is active duty, an assignment is an assignment. One does not say no. Think of retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward and retired General David Petraeus. They both had the freedom to say no as they no longer had the obligation to follow an order from their commander-in-chief. Not so with active duty Lt. General McMaster. Second, and this is important, an active duty officer is very much aware of the actual circumstances of the military; their operations, the need of support in areas of equipment and funding, staffing and intelligence and, most critical, strategy towards success for a secure nation. These are the vital resources McMaster has at his fingertips.
McMaster also understands the massive threat of cyber-terrorism. He fully comprehends the concept that espionage and cyber-war are the precursors to boots on the ground war and that systems can be used either against us of for us. He is not shy about his ideas on how we work across the board between agencies and military branches to develop systems and processes to fight wars…both cyber and actual. He speaks to Charlie Rose in 2014 regarding his thoughts:
This is a man of sterling reputation, a military historian and scholar and a stalwart in the fight against terrorism. He will not be afraid to stand up to Trump, or Bannon and will be an ally to Mattis in keeping our nation safe…from ALL enemies, foreign and domestic. His badassery continues: He is a war veteran, married for over 30 years, an intellectual, respected by officer and enlisted alike, and has the approval of peers like Mattis, Kellogg (now to be McMaster’s Chief of Staff), former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Senator John McCain among many others.
There are few things that President Trump has done which garner any praise in my own humble opinion, and I am certainly no fan as my readers are aware. However, with this pick, he has done a great service to us all and to the security of America.