On February 20, President Trump appointed Lt. General Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster to serve as the next National Security Advisor. The corporate media, along with numerous Congressional Republicans, praised the decision, calling McMaster a “soldier-scholar and creative thinker” (AP), a “straight-talking, military strategist” (BBC), a “military strategist” (New York Times), “…smart, intense and fiercely outspoken” (Washington Post), and a military strategist (The Hill). Other media declared that he engaged in independent thinking (ABC News), was a “huge innovator” (Boston Herald), was a military intellectual (NPR), was a “warrior scholar” (Politico), not a “yes man” (Bloomberg), was the “smartest and most capable officer of his generation” (CNN), and an intellectual who could “get through” to Trump (Slate). Years earlier, this same media, followed by liberal outlets, would praise McMaster as a “creative strategist” (Slate), “pre-eminent warrior-thinker” (Time) and of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2014 as a person to lead the US’s “future force” in wars. While this surface analysis is to be expected, it doesn’t say who McMaster is, or even if his appointment is meant to appease Russophobes, but puts him up on a pedestal to be admired.
McMaster is a man with wide-ranging military experience, meaning that he has been deeply involved in Mideast wars since the 1990s. He was a fellow of the Hoover Institution (2002-2003), a neoconservative “public policy research center” closely aligned with other such foundations like the defunct Project for a New American Century. On his profile, it described how he commanded troops in the US and Germany, served at the National Training Center, along with in the “first” Iraq War (1990) and “Second” Iraq War (2003), along with gaining numerous medals, holds a PhD in American History, was formerly part of the elite Council on Foreign Relations, and currently serves as part of the Cold War establishment think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
During the recent phase of the 20-year Iraq War (1991-2011), before it started up again later in Obama’s term, he was one of the top advisers on fighting the Iraqi insurgency, a person elaborated for “successfully” crushing the resistance in Tal Afar in 2005, declaring “body counts are completely irrelevant” in order to achieve “victory.” Later, in 2007, he was part of an “elite team of officers advising US commander General David Petraeus in Baghdad.”
The words and positions of McMaster are worth noting, as he will be dictating the imperial policy of the United States. In his 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty, praised by the complaint media across the board, he declares that the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1960s did not give “unvarnished military advice to President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara” as they went into the Vietnam War, but even in his “comprehensive, balanced and relentless exploration of the specific role of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” as the New York Times puts it, he “displays some of the same ethnocentrism, the same assumption of American omnipotence,” that he criticizes the Chiefs for, meaning that he leaves out, of course, “ideas, plans and actions of the Vietnamese.” Not surprisingly, this “thoughtful” book was recommended across the Pentagon.
In later years, while McMaster slammed the idea of “easy war” and that military leaders should end the idea that “high-tech weapons and a “minimalist” commitment of forces can solve conflicts.” What this implies is that he favors heavier conflict, in terms of engaging in more bombing. In a 2002 paper he made the same claims, saying that he should not assume that the US will have “information superiority and dominant battlespace knowledge” over the enemy, that high-tech gadgets should still be emphasized, even if they can’t win wars, and that objectives of any war should be well-defined. In the same paper, he shows his Cold Warrior thinking by declaring that the years of 1989 to 1991 watershed in US “national security policy” with events removing the US from Cold War, with welcome changes once war was over but also uncertainty with the end of, as he puts it predictably, the “Soviet Empire.”
In 2012, the Wall Street Journal released an interview with “warrior-scholar” McMaster, in which he declared his allegiance to the imperial war in Afghanistan. He says that the US needs to consolidate their “gains” in the war, while admitting how much the psychological and political dimensions of warfare fascinate him. He also is clearly a major advocate of the counterinsurgency strategy used in Iraq and Afghanistan, while saying there is deep corruption in Afghanistan, praising the Strategic Partnership Agreement (which continues the US imperial occupation there until 2024), praises efforts by “small teams of Special Forces” and is angered by Afghan media which are “wholly captured and run, or owned by hostile organizations or entities.”
McMaster, with his military institutionalist mindset, clearly forgets that the war in Afghanistan is a losing proposition. In 2012, Rolling Stone released an 84 page report by Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a long time US Army veteran, which declared that “senior ranking US military leaders” had distorted the truth about the conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, damaging US credibility and pursuing a strategy which is an “abysmal failure,” with rising violence. Additionally, McMaster’s characterization of the Taliban as a “criminal organization” that engages in “mass murder of innocent people, and…[is] the largest narcotics-trafficking organization in the world…murderous, nihilistic, irreligious people,” could mostly be applied to the US war machine itself.
With these beliefs, it is worrisome that McMaster has Trump’s ear. He almost sounds like Trump when he declared that “we will defeat” today’s “enemies” (“the terrorists”), notes a “humanitarian catastrophe of colossal scale” in the Mideast, and worries about the “warrior ethos” being under threat. McMaster’s appointment shows that Trump is dedicated to the use of Special Ops (“legendary warriors”) across the world, that the Afghan war will continue, and that drone strikes will continue unabated, all signs that the US military will expand its tentacles of terror across this blue planet.
Leftist Critic is an independent radical, writer, and angry citizen who can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter, @leftistcritic, where they tweet frequently about issues of importance relating to American empire, the environment, people of color, and criticism of the “left,” whether radical or non-radical, which they expand on their weblog.