March 17, 2018


Where H.R. McMaster Went Wrong: He built a storied military career by speaking truth to power--until that power was President Trump. (FRED KAPLAN, MARCH 16, 2018, Slate)

McMaster, a combat hero in both Iraq wars, had made his reputation 20 years earlier, as an Army major, with his dissertation-turned-book, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, which criticized the top generals of the 1960s for betraying their constitutional duties by failing to give the president their honest military advice.

In his assignments since then, McMaster only solidified his standing as an officer who spoke truth to power, sometimes impetuously, with a distinct lack of talent for dissembling. Some of his superiors admired him for his impolitic indifference; most despised him for it.

He came to the White House with no background in broad national security policy and no experience in Washington politics--and those shortcomings helped seal his doom. When the president called on him to tell the sorts of lies for which he'd lambasted an earlier generation of generals, he didn't know how to evade the pressure, and he succumbed to it just as they did.

The turning point came in May, barely three months into the job. The Washington Post reported that at a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump had divulged to Russia's two top diplomats highly classified secrets about Israel's involvement in an intelligence operation. In the wake of this appalling security breach, which would have sent anyone else to prison, McMaster was ordered to cover Trump's tracks at a press conference.

Reading from a carefully worded script, McMaster strung together a series of mendacities and half-truths that appalled his friends and admirers. One of them pronounced himself "heartbroken." Eliot Cohen wrote in the Atlantic, in a pointed reference to McMaster, that, for the high officials dragged into Trump's swamp of deceit, the worst moment may come when they "can no longer recognize their own characters for what they once were."

You can't both tell the truth and support Donald. And, if you work for him, you have to lie with gusto, not with shame.

Posted by at March 17, 2018 4:39 AM