Earlier today, President Trump selected Gen. H.R. McMaster to be his National Security Advisor, replacing the short-lived Gen. Michael Flynn. Those breathing a sigh of relief that the rumored favorite John Bolton didn’t get the nod may want to hold that thought – and their breath. McMaster is not the man to guide President Trump toward better relations with Russia and less US interference in the internal affairs of others.
In fact, he believes the opposite.
In a speech delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies just last May, Gen. McMaster blamed the lack of sufficient US military presence overseas for what he calls a more aggressive Russian geostrategic posturing.
Said the General:
Even though it may have been apparent, at least since 2008, that Russia was changing its geostrategic behavior and engaging in…probing, probing at the far reaches of American power, our strategic response was to accelerate our withdrawal of…army forces from Europe. And what we’re seeing now is we’ve awakened to obviously this threat from Russia who is waging limited war for limited objectives. Annexing Crimea. Invading Ukraine. At zero cost. And consolidating gains over that territory, and portraying the reaction by us and partners as escalatory. … What is required is forward deterrence. To be able to ratchet up the cost at the frontier.
The General also made the completely fallacious assertion that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. Even the highly critical if not overtly anti-Russia European Union concluded that Georgia was to blame for launching an ill-advised attack on Russian peacekeeping forces that were part of an international mission in South Ossetia.
Does this sound like someone who is going to work to help President Trump improve relations with Russia?
No wonder neocons Max Boot and Sen. John McCain are absolutely thrilled with Trump’s choice of McMaster to be National Security Advisor.
Sen. McCain, who just returned from attacking President Trump at the Munich Security Conference for not being harder on Russia, said today that McMaster:
…knows how to succeed. I give President Trump great credit for this decision, as well as his national security cabinet choices. I could not imagine a better, more capable national security team than the one we have right now.
Max Boot had a similar reaction:
H.R. McMaster is one of the most impressive army officers of his generation—a rare combination of soldier and scholar.
McMaster’s claim to fame was the 1997 Dereliction of Duty, which is billed as a brave attack on the mistake of the Vietnam war, but was in fact largely focused on the failure to devote enough resources to actually winning the war – a typical neocon critique of failed military interventions.
Is McMaster a worse choice than John Bolton? Perhaps. Whereas Bolton would have been under the microscope, McMaster may just be able, due to his military history, be able to avoid close scrutiny.
Whatever the case, McMaster is all about conflict with Russia. Will his boss keep him in check?
Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.