Tag Archives: HR McMaster

Too many generals around Trump? Maybe, but then again …

A former Joint Chiefs chairman says he is concerned that Donald J. Trump has surrounded himself with too many generals.

Retired Navy Admiral Mike Mullen — who served as Joint Chiefs chairman under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama — said that Defense Secretary James Mattis and White House chief of staff John Kelly, two former U.S. Marine Corps generals, lack “political experience.” The same can be said, according to Mullen, about former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who is an active-duty U.S. Army lieutenant general.

“Jim Mattis, and John Kelly and H.R. McMaster are not politicians, but they’re operating in this political world inside the White House,” Mullen said. “It is a tough, difficult, political environment.”

OK, I get Mullen’s concern.

I’m not sure he needs to be overly concerned. I look at the generals’ presence a little differently. These men all have combat experience, which means they understand the consequences of war. It’s been said that warriors quite often are the last individuals who want to go to war. They know too well the grief and misery it brings.

Admiral Mullen perhaps ought to be more concerned that the commander in chief is reluctant to listen the best advice he gets from those “best people” with whom he pledged to bring aboard his administrative team.

‘Mad Dog’ can’t work with Bolton? Who knew?

Imagine my non-surprise to hear this tidbit on a drizzly Texas Panhandle day. It is that Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis told associates he isn’t sure he can work with John Bolton were he to be named national security adviser to the Donald J. Trump administration.

Who knew? Yes?

You see, Mattis is a grownup. He’s a retired Marine Corps general with combat experience. He knows war. He’s seen it up close. He’s been to hell and lived to talk about it … were he so inclined.

Bolton is more of a “chicken hawk.” He doesn’t have the kind of real-world experience that Mattis has piled up. Yet he stands ready to recommend war at almost any turn. The Hill reports that White House chief of staff John Kelly, another retired Marine general, also is unhappy with Bolton’s selection as national security adviser.

Well, now the president has appointed Bolton to be the national security adviser. The decision appears to have isolated Mattis, who had a kindred spirit in the national security adviser’s chair for about a year. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is stepping down as national security adviser and reportedly is retiring from the Army.

He and Mattis double-teamed as a reasonable tandem of advisers who were willing to advise Trump against acting rashly — even though they weren’t always able to persuade the president to follow their advice.

Gen. McMaster is now gone. Is “Mad Dog” Mattis the next grownup to be shown the door?

Chaos is king in the Trump White House.

Look out, ‘radical Islam’

President George W. Bush told us in clear and unequivocal terms while the nation grieved over the 9/11 attack: We are not at war with Islam.

President Barack H. Obama followed that message to the letter. On the night he announced the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the president told us that bin Laden was not a “Muslim leader,” but that he was a “mass murderer of Muslims.”

A new president has taken over. Donald J. Trump has just nominated Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state and has appointed John Bolton to be the new national security adviser.

These two men — not to mention the president — seem intent on changing the narrative. They want to take direct aim at “radical Islam,” as if the terrorists with whom we are at war represent a great world religion. They do not. They have perverted Islam to fit some ruthless ideology.

As Politico has reported: Both Bolton and Pompeo will now be working for a president who has alleged, with no evidence, that American Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks, and who has proposed banning all foreign Muslims from U.S. shores. Critics say the personnel moves suggest Trump’s worst instincts on how to approach the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims will find receptive ears among his foreign policy aides.

Rex Tillerson and H.R. McMaster, who will be leaving the State Department and the National Security Council, respectively, were thought to have some sort of moderating influence on Trump. But the president has shoved them aside, elevating two more fiery confidants to help formulate U.S. foreign policy. They are likely to seek to steer the president toward a position that mainstream Muslims might interpret to be more hostile to their religious faith.

That, I suggest, is a dangerous trend.

The killers with whom we have been at war since 9/11 need damn little pretext to recruit new militants to follow their perverted cause.

Let’s see how this guy works out

Of all the things Donald J. Trump said while campaigning for the presidency in 2016, one of the few statements he made with which I agree dealt with the Iraq War.

He called it a “total disaster.” Which it turned out to be … on so many levels.

So, who does the president hire as his next national security adviser? John Bolton, an Iraq War advocate, a premier uber-hawk and a guy known for a fiery world view that seems to require that America embark on nation-building whenever it sees fit.

Trump shoved H.R. McMaster out the door this week after press secretary Sarah Hucakbee Sanders assured us that all is well between the president and the national security adviser.

It turns out it wasn’t. McMaster actually was one of the grownups within the Trump inner circle. He is a U.S. Army lieutenant general, a battle-tested scholar. He also disagreed with Trump on a number of key issues: Russia, the Iran nuclear deal come to mind.

Now the president has brought on board a guy who agrees with him on the Iran nuke deal. He’s extremely hawkish on North Korea, too, meaning that he just might counsel the president to go to war with Kim Jong Un if an opportunity presents itself.

Gosh, I feel decidedly less comfortable knowing that John Bolton is returning to the federal government.

Bolton did say that he knows his role, that the president sets policy. His new duties will be to provide advice and counsel on national security matters.

Throughout all of this chaos, though, is the pattern already established that Trump hardly takes a moment to listen to anyone. I am left to wonder: Is the president going to heed the reckless advice that John Bolton is capable of delivering?

Oh, my. I am gnashing my teeth.

Welcome to the new normal in Trump World

Let’s call it the “New Normal” in the world of Donald John Trump Sr.

The president of the United States announced via Twitter that he would meet with North Korean strongman/boy Kim Jong Un. He didn’t tell Secretary of State Rex Tillerson any of this in advance.

Then he fired Tillerson and brought in CIA Director Mike Pompeo to run the State Department.

And then … he places a congratulatory phone call to another despot, Russian goon Vladimir Putin, who stole an election — the one that re-elected him, poisoned a former spy and his daughter, meddled in our 2016 election. He placed that call against the vehement advice of his national security team. Trump didn’t bother to mention a word about the poisoning or Putin’s attack on our electoral system. He couldn’t be bothered with any of that small stuff.

Then the national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, resigned — today! Trump then announced he was hiring John Bolton, the fiery former United Nations ambassador, the uber-hawk.

The president is set to meet with a prime U.S. adversary, North Korea, in the midst of a nuclear threat. The secretary of state is fired; the national security adviser has quit. Oh, and the State Department has virtually zero deputy or under secretaries to do the necessary spade work in preparation for what could be either a landmark summit … or a complete bust!

Trump’s take on all of this? Hey, it’s no problem! He’s forging at this moment the perfect team to surround him.

Oh, brother. The man has gone through four communications directors, he has hired his second White House chief of staff, he has just hired his third national security adviser. He forced out a press secretary. And all this has occurred with just 15 months of the man’s administration!

That’s normal? Not in any manner that makes sense.

In Trump World, though, it’s all part of the game plan that will “make America great again.”


Another top Trumpkin bails on POTUS

It’s a laugh a day at the Donald John Trump Sr. White House. Except few Americans find little actual humor at what is transpiring.

Today’s chuckle comes from John Dowd, the president’s now-former lead lawyer in this Russia matter. Dowd has called it quits, packed it up and gone on his way.

Why? Well, imagine this if you dare: Dowd says he is leaving because his client isn’t heeding his legal advice. Shocking, yes?

Trump isn’t inclined to listen to anyone. Not his lawyer. Or his national security team. Or his chief economic adviser. The secretary of state.

The national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, implored Trump against congratulating Vladimir Putin on his re-election in a rigged vote; Trump patted Putin on the back anyway and McMaster is now thought to on his way out. Former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn didn’t want Trump to impose trade tariffs on imported steel and aluminum; Trump imposed them and Cohn quit. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson battled Trump on all manner of Russia-related matters; Trump fired Tillerson.

Now … it’s the president’s lead lawyer who is walking away.

Dowd has had enough. Trump seems to want to take a more prominent role in his own legal defense against the special counsel, Robert Mueller, who is proceeding with a meticulous probe into “the Russia thing.”

I am left to recall what I’ve heard so many times: Someone who represents himself in a legal proceeding has a fool for a client.

What? A new national security adviser, too?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is gone. Fired! Canned! Kaput!

Now it’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster, the active-duty Army lieutenant general, who’s reportedly out. He, too, will be booted, according to multiple media reports.

In the span of one week — that’s just seven days — Donald Trump reportedly has dismantled two key components of his national security/foreign policy team.

Oh, and the timing of all this madness? Yep, the president is supposedly prepping for a summit with “Little Rocket Man,” the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

McMaster is the second national security adviser to work for Trump in the past 14 months. The first one, Michael Flynn, lasted all of 24 days before he got the boot.

And through all of this, Donald Trump would have us believe that all is well, all is good, all is working just as it is supposed to work within the White House.

I, um, think not.

Chaos is king in the West Wing.

Now it’s Trump vs. McMaster … imagine that!

So much buzz, so little time to process it all.

Donald Trump fired off a tweet over the weekend that took aim at a remarkable target: the man who provides him national security advice.

H.R. McMaster said at an international conference that special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of several Russians on charges of 2016 election meddling provides “incontrovertible” proof that the Russians launched an attack on our electoral system.

Trump’s response was to say that McMaster “forgot” to say that the indictments didn’t accuse the Trump campaign of “collusion,” that it didn’t help the Russians hack into our system; nor did McMaster say that the meddling actually influenced the outcome, according to the president.

So, the battle is joined. As Politico notes, the two men have been at odds ever since McMaster replaced the disgraced Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

Here is the Politico story

Who knew? I mean, McMaster is a highly decorated U.S. Army three-star general, a man with tremendous attention to detail. He is a national security scholar who now works for a man who doesn’t have the interest or inclination to study anything. The president flies by the seat of his pants and reacts viscerally to crises.

Is there any wonder that Gen. McMaster and the president would be at odds?


We are left to wonder how this White House, the president and his top aides ever are able to concur on anything. Who in the world gives this president advice he actually heeds?

The answer is no one.

Actually, Obama did act on Russian meddling

Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade over the weekend and in the process he managed to tweet out yet another lie.

I know. It’s just so hard to believe. Right? Actually, well … no. It isn’t. It’s Trump’s modus operandi.

While he was blasting former President Barack H. Obama, Democrats, the FBI, Hillary Clinton, H.R. McMaster and the media in the wake of the indictments over the Russian election meddling, the president accused his predecessor of doing nothing about the Russians.

Actually, sir, President Obama did do something.

I feel the need to remind Trump of that. Except that he knows it already, which makes his misstatement yet another outright lie.

Obama looked Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in the eye and told him to quit interfering in our electoral process. Then the president signed an executive order that booted several Russian diplomats out of the country, forced the closure of Russian diplomatic property and imposed strict economic sanctions on the Russians.

He sought to punish the Russians for doing what the intelligence community has confirmed what they did.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted several Russians and three Russian companies for their role in the 2016 election interference. Both houses of Congress approved — with overwhelming majorities — toughened sanctions on Russia, only to have the president decline to agree to them.

In that light, Donald Trump has the gall to say that Barack Obama has done “nothing” to punish the Russians?


Waiting for outrage from White House

I won’t hold my breath waiting for Donald J. Trump to say what needs to be said about Russian meddling in our nation’s electoral process.

The president should declare his outrage and must insist that we take measures to ensure that this kind of political aggression from a foreign adversary never happens again.

He won’t say it. Of that I am increasingly certain.

What’s more, his refusal to declare such outrage makes me question whether this man actually places protecting the nation he governs above all else.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for their role in interfering in our 2016 presidential election. The 37-page indictment does not alleged “collusion” from the Trump campaign; nor does it say that the Russian interference determined the outcome.

That was the focus of the president’s initial response. He said the indictments vindicate his campaign. He declared there was “no collusion!” yet again.

Meanwhile, national security adviser H.R. McMaster says the indictment provides “incontrovertible proof” that the Russians launched a campaign against our electoral system. They committed an act of aggression. They sought to sow discord and discontent among Americans. They succeeded!

Where in the world is the outrage from the man at the top? When is he ever going to declare virtual war against foreign powers who think they can mess with our political system?

The president took an oath to defend the United States. He swore to place our national interests above all else. Indeed, he campaigned on a pledge to “put America first.”

The president’s continuing refusal to state his intention to end this kind of meddling is a fundamental violation of that oath.