Some of us thought Michael Flynn was a bad choice for national security adviser from the get-go.
He had called Islam a “cancer” and that Americans’ fear of Muslims was justified. Then the retired Army lieutenant general reportedly lied to the vice president about the nature of some talks he had with Russian government agents during the 2016 presidential campaign.
If you’ll forgive the chest-thumping, here’s what I wrote in early December.
He got the boot from the president.
Now we have another Army three-star, H.R. McMaster, coming in to be the national security adviser. He’s a renowned military scholar and deep thinker who says, among other things, that Russia is a pre-eminent threat and that our war against terror shouldn’t morph into a war against Islam.
I feel significantly better about this guy than I did about his immediate predecessor.
I believe Donald Trump has chosen well in filling this highly critical staff post.
Even critics of the president, such as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, speak highly of McMaster. Indeed, McCain speaks well of the president’s national security team. McCain added that he “could not imagine a better, more capable national security team than the one we have right now.”
The question I will continue to have is whether the new national security adviser will be able to provide unfettered, unfiltered and unambiguous advice to Trump — without the influence of senior political strategist Steve Bannon, who Trump has installed as a member of the National Security Council principals committee.
A lot of sharp military minds believe Bannon’s role on that panel is a huge mistake. One of them, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen, said the NSC’s principals committee must be absolutely clear of politics; Bannon’s presence there, Mullen said, politicizes it egregiously.
McMaster reportedly received assurances from the president that he’ll be able to hire the staff he wants and will be allowed to proceed in the manner in which the adviser must proceed. He will have full and complete access to the president and will be able to give him the assessment he needs about national security threats.
The Flynn story is far from over.
However, the national security team now appears to have added a valuable new member to help protect Americans against our nation’s enemies.