Politico reported that three-star general H.R. McMaster has cover from new Chief of Staff Gen. Kelly. McMaster is battling for control of the National Security Council and Kelly is giving him the green light to do what he feels he has to do.
Politico’s sources said Kelly has encouraged him to make any staffing changes he deems necessary.
Generals Kelly and McMaster were both mentored and promoted by Gen. Petraeus.
With that okay, McMaster fired three Trumpists on his staff in a week. It is true that he has wanted to fire them for months.
They disagreed with him on Iran, Israel, deep state and a number of other issues. He saw them as going around him and directly to the President, perhaps leaking.
Kelly is establishing order.
Kelly told McMaster this week that he wanted him to remain as national security adviser and encouraged him to make any staffing changes he deems necessary.
That was McMaster’s green light this week to oust top intelligence aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick — a Michael Flynn hire who has a warm relationship with Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, after months of trying.
He had also fired Rich Higgins and Col. Harvey. Reports from the Free Beacon say he has a list with at least six more and they are all Trumpists.
Officials say McMaster had a leading role in pushing out K.T. McFarland, a former Fox News analyst and Reagan administration official who served as Flynn’s deputy.
Rumors abound that Trump and McMaster do not have a warm relationship but do in fact, have a testy one. Trump was said to be thinking of reassigning him to another post, possibly sending him to oversee the war in Afghanistan.
McMaster is known to have a volatile temper and has wanted to rid the NSC of people he thinks are leaking negative stories about him. Aides who are close to Trump are seen as undercutting his authority which is likely why all Trumpists are being quickly dispatched.
Steve Bannon and McMaster have a volatile relationship. In mid-July, the two sparred openly, in a widely attended policy meeting about Afghanistan, with McMaster advocating greater U.S. involvement and Bannon arguing for a major pullback.
It got so out of hand that Secretary of Defense James Mattis had to intervene.
The President has vowed to pull back from all these engagements. Afghanistan always promised to be another Vietnam but it was the Democrats’ “good war” according to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others.
McMaster thinks Bannon is responsible for leaking negative information about him to the news media — including via Breitbart.com.
McMaster, who holds a Ph.D. in American history, remains on shaky ground with Trump though Trump wants to keep him for now.
There are rumors Bannon might not have more than a few weeks before he is fired.
McMaster has won some victories according to Politico like getting Trump to not use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” and committing to NATO’s Article 5 which in turn commits the U.S. to defending European allies [watch the EU go back to not paying their fair share].
“There is a split in the White House between the Bannon camp of ideologues and the McMaster-Mattis-Tillerson camp of more centrist intellectuals,” said Pete Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who worked closely with McMaster and now teaches at Ohio State University. “And this conflict is playing out in real time as the Trump administration tries to flesh out its foreign policy and national security policy.”
Don’t you love how he phrased that? Bannon’s people are ideologues but the other side are intellectuals. Bannon’s education is extensive and he holds an MBA with honors from Harvard.
“The centrists appear to be winning the battle,” Mansoor added. “But not always.”
Being a Centrist means keeping the former policies of Trump’s past two predecessors. The Iran deal stays if McMaster stays, even if Iran violates it. There are reports he is anti-Israel but he denies that.
Reality? Who knows, but what we do know is Ben Rhodes’ appointees are still at the NSC; Flynn’s/Trump’s policy hawks are being fired; McMaster supports the Iran deal; McMaster isn’t the biggest Israel supporter; Bannon and McMaster have a volatile relationship; McMaster is forming our foreign policy and wants to beef up the war in Afghanistan where the Taliban hide out in the hills until we leave but are always ready to come back.
We’re stuck with McMaster, like him or not.