BY JOSEPH KRASSNER
Throughout his still short-lived presidency, President Trump has been criticized for many of the people he has appointed into his administration. Among them are Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education–who has no professional experience in public education–and Steve Bannon for Chief Strategist–the former chairman of Breitbart News who played a major role in Trump’s executive order that temporarily suspended citizens from entering the United States earlier this year. Earlier this week, Trump appointed General Herbert McMaster to the position of National Security Advisor following the resignation of former advisor Michael Flynn. While people might groan at the presence of another conservative thinker, McMaster’s background may serve as a positive addition to the Trump administration.
McMaster has an extremely decorated past which includes, but is not limited to, receiving a PhD in history from North Carolina, graduating from the distinguished West Point, and earning a silver star for his leadership during the Battle of 73 Easting during the first Gulf War. Even with his experience, it is easy to understand why some are not necessarily thrilled about the new advisor; he has spent almost no time in the Pentagon or in Washington for that matter, which, according to the Washington Post, differs from the majority of previous officers. While this may question his ability to handle the role of navigating Washington politics as a security advisor, McMaster has actual fighting experience and military knowledge that enabled him to reach the high ranking general status he currently holds.
As an advisor, it is critical to state one’s own opinion even at the cost of his or her rank. According to the Business Insider, McMaster criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2003 for the latter’s Iraq plan, asserting that there was too much emphasis on technology, and in 2004 for refusing to admit the existence of an insurgency after invading Iraq. After his sharp criticisms, McMaster was passed over twice to receive his first star that would have allowed him to become a general and it would not be until 2008, that McMaster would earn a star. Although this could have simply been chance, it is suspicious that the rejections were after his criticisms of a high ranking official. McMaster is not just a master of vocal criticism, but also written criticism. His PhD dissertation, entitled “Dereliction of Duty,” became one of the most important books about the Vietnam War, which from a strategic perspective, points out some of the key failures of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war.
Whether or not an individual like McMaster will have any noticeable effect as a member of Trump’s Cabinet is unclear as of now, however, his substantial background experience could prove critical in his decisions with President Trump. For someone who reigned in as an advisor McMaster might have a tendency to use his military experience as a basis for his stance. Even if you do not agree with McMaster’s stance, there is no denying that in terms of providing advice on security, McMaster’s word would have some validity and merit as someone who is extremely involved in both fighting and thought of war.