Posted tagged ‘H.R. McMaster’

Trump and his generals

June 22, 2017

Trump and his generals, Washington TimesVictor Davis Hanson, June 21, 2017

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

[T]he three generals are beholden to Mr. Trump for a historic opportunity to shape America’s security posture in ways impossible during the last half-century.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump must recognize that such generals lend credibility to his role as commander in chief and signal that he is wise enough to value merit over politics.

At least for now, it is a win-win-win solution for Mr. Trump, the generals — and the country.

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump earned respect from the Washington establishment for appointing three of the nation’s most accomplished generals to direct his national security policy: James Mattis (secretary of defense), H.R. McMaster (national security adviser) and John Kelly (secretary of homeland security).

In the first five months of the Trump administration, the three generals — along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO — have already recalibrated America’s defenses.

At home, illegal immigration is down by some 70 percent. Abroad, a new policy of principled realism seeks to re-establish deterrence through credible threats of retaliation. The generals are repairing old friendships with allies and neutrals while warning traditional enemies not to press their luck.

President Trump has turned over most of the details of military operations to his generals. According to his critics, Mr. Trump is improperly outsourcing to his generals both strategic decision-making and its tactical implementation.

But is Mr. Trump really doing that?

In his campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to avoid new ground wars while not losing those he inherited. He pledged to wipe out ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism without invading Middle Eastern countries to turn them into democracies.

Those are wide but nonetheless unmistakable parameters.

Within them, the U.S. military can drop a huge bomb on the Taliban, strike the chemical weapons depots of Syria’s Bashar Assad, or choose the sort of ships it will use to deter North Korean aggression — without Mr. Trump poring over a map, or hectoring Gen. Mattis or Gen. McMaster about what particular move is politically appropriate or might poll well.

Other presidents have done the same.

A wartime President Lincoln — up for re-election in 1864 — wanted the tottering Confederacy invaded and humiliated. But he had no idea that Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman would interpret that vague wish as nearly destroying Atlanta, and then cutting his supply lines to march across Georgia to the sea at Savannah.

When Sherman pulled off the March to the Sea, Lincoln confessed that he had been wrongly skeptical of, totally surprised and utterly delighted with Sherman’s victories. He then left it to Sherman and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to plan the final campaign of the war.

Had Sherman lost his army in the wilds of Georgia, no doubt Lincoln would have relieved him, as he did so many of his other failed generals.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt demanded a cross-channel invasion of France by mid-1944. He did not worry much about how it was to be implemented.

The generals and admirals of his Joint Chiefs handled Roosevelt’s wish by delegating the job to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Anglo-American staff.

Had Eisenhower failed on the Normandy beaches, Roosevelt likely would have fired him and others.

Other critics complain that decorated heroes such as Gens. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly should not stoop to work for a firebrand like Mr. Trump.

The very opposite is true.

Anti-New Dealers such as Republicans Henry Stimson and Frank Knox served in the Roosevelt administration to ensure national unity and expertise during World War II — in much the same manner that old George W. Bush hand Robert Gates stayed on as secretary of defense to advise foreign policy novice Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump entered office with no formal political or military experience. That does not mean his business skills and innate cunning are not critical in setting national security policy — only that he benefits from the wise counsel of veterans.

The patriotic duty for men the caliber of these three generals was to step forward and serve their commander in chief — and thereby ensure that the country would have proven professionals carrying out the president’s recalibrations.

Of course, there must be tensions between the Trump administration, its Democratic opponents and the largely apolitical Gens. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly, who have enjoyed high commands under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Liberals want the generals to leak to the press and hint that Mr. Trump is a dunce whose blunders force wise men like themselves to clean up the mess.

Republicans prefer the three to get on board the Trump team and appoint only conservatives who will resonate administration values.

In truth, Mr. Trump and his generals share a quid pro quo relationship that so far has worked.

Gens. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly must know that few other presidents would have taken the heat to entrust three military men to guide national security policy. And even if another president did, he might not empower them with anything like their president latitude.

In that regard, the three generals are beholden to Mr. Trump for a historic opportunity to shape America’s security posture in ways impossible during the last half-century.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump must recognize that such generals lend credibility to his role as commander in chief and signal that he is wise enough to value merit over politics.

At least for now, it is a win-win-win solution for Mr. Trump, the generals — and the country.

Absolving Jihadis of Responsibility for Terrorism

April 28, 2017

Absolving Jihadis of Responsibility for Terrorism, Gatestone InstituteA. Z. Mohamed, April 28, 2017

(America has no Theologian in Chief, Secretary of Theology or Religious Adviser to the National Security Council. So who in America gets to decide who is a “true” Muslim? Who is a “fake” Muslim? Who does or doesn’t pervert the “true” teachings of Islam? Which teachings? Does it matter? Just eliminate the terrorists. We have a pretty good idea who and where they are. Please see also, There is no viable American alternative to the Muslim reform movement. — DM)

At an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council on February 23, the new U.S. National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, argued against using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Jihadists, he said, are not true adherents to the religion, but rather pervert its teachings.

Classifying Muslims into categories is not only misleading; it feeds into the hands of those who try to obfuscate the dangerous nature of Islam as a political ideology.

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More disconcerting is that leading figures in the West — including Pope Francis and former U.S. President Barack Obama — assert that ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations are “not Muslim.” How would they know? Do Muslims go around telling Christians who is and is not a true Christian? The use of this rhetoric is part of an agenda to absolve Muslims of responsibility for terrorism.

“[T]hey [ISIS] draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, from our own principles.” — Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani, former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The Oxford Dictionary of Islam defines takfir as “pronouncement that someone is unbeliever (kafir) and no longer Muslim.” It has become a key concept in the ideology of both terrorist groups and their enemies as well in the Muslim world. A takfiri is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim (or Christian or Jew) of apostasy. During the last few years, however, several non-Muslims, leading Western figures and even governments have been adopting that ideology. Muslims’ excessive use of takfir creates a state of chaos; Westerns’ use of it makes the situation more chaotic. The following is a part of the story of “takfirism” and its repercussions.

The Islamic State (ISIS), al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups always claim that Muslim leaders who do not rule by Islamic sharia law — and those who obey them — are not Muslims. The terrorists consider them “hypocrites” (the Saudis), “rejectionists,” or “outsiders” (Iranians and Shias). Terrorists always use the concept of takfir to authorize and endorse violence against their enemies.

In reaction, several Muslim leaders and senior Islamic clerics have started to utilize takfir to denounce the terrorists as unbelievers. Such a development highlights the nature of Islam as a political ideology, notably in the Sunni vs. Shia and Sunni vs. Sunni hostilities. The charge of takfir is a weapon used by all parties involved.

In June 2014, for example, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s chief Shiite cleric, issued a fatwa (Islamic legal opinion) encouraging his followers to take up arms against ISIS. Two months later, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al ash-Sheikh, issued a statement blasting ISIS and al-Qaeda as Islam’s key enemies.

Last August in Chechnya, more than 200 Sunni clerics — among them the Egyptian Grand Imam of al-Azhar — referred to Wahhabism as “a dangerous deformation” of Sunni Islam.

The following month, the Saudi grand mufti said Iran’s leaders are “not Muslims,” a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described Saudi rulers as “blasphemous” and “faithless.”

“Are there any Muslims left?” said Robert Spencer, a non-Muslim expert in Islam. “Is anyone a Muslim at all?… any Muslim who behaves in a way some other Muslim dislikes is simply not a Muslim.”

That radical Muslim ideologues engage in takfir to attack their enemies is considered “the usual” by now. More disconcerting is that leading figures in the West — including Pope Francis and former U.S. President Barack Obama — adopted the practice, asserting that ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations are “not Muslim.” How would they know? Do Muslims go around telling Christians who is and is not a true Christian? The use of this rhetoric is part of an agenda to absolve Muslims of responsibility for terrorism.

At an all-hands meeting of the National Security Council on February 23, the new U.S. National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, argued against using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Jihadists, he said, are not true adherents to the religion, but rather pervert its teachings. “The phrase is unhelpful because terrorist organizations like ISIS represent a perversion of Islam, and are thus un-Islamic, McMaster said, according to a source who attended the meeting.”

U.S. National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster (left), recently argued against using the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” Pictured above: President Donald Trump appears with McMaster, on February 20, 2017. (Image source: PBS News video screenshot)

What is misleading, confusing, and “unhelpful” is classifying Muslims into categories. Relying on Islamic authorities who are not objective and use or misuse Islam for political purposes is even more misleading and “unhelpful.”

At least one senior Islamic cleric disturbed by this distinction is Sheikh Adil Al-Kalbani, former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. A few months ago, he acknowledged with regret that, “they [ISIS] draw their ideas from what is written in our own books, from our own principles.”

He is correct. Classifying Muslims into categories is not only misleading; it feeds into the hands of those who try to obfuscate the dangerous nature of Islam as a political ideology.

The White House A-Team

April 14, 2017

The White House A-Team, Bill Whittle Channel via YouTube, April 13, 2017

A breakdown on Trump’s dream team of Rex Tillerson, Nikki Haley, and H.R. McMaster after recent occurrences in Syria conflict.