Monday, May 22, 2017

McMaster Falling

It’s a brutal verdict on the failings so evident in the American president and his top advisers: “arrogance, weakness, lying in the pursuit of self-interest, and, above all, the abdication of responsibility to the American people.”

So said General McMaster, Trump's National Security Adviser, about the Johnson administration in the Viet Nam era, in a book he wrote.
In his book, “Dereliction of Duty,” published in 1997, McMaster explains how a culture of deceit and deference, of divided and misguided loyalties, of policy overrun by politics, resulted in an ever-deeper U.S. involvement in Vietnam — a war, McMaster writes, that “led Americans to question the integrity of their government as never before.”
Oh, the irony, sir.
McMaster is one of the few credible voices remaining in a White House that is once again making Americans question the integrity of their government.
Not so much now. He's giving cover to Trump's meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, even to the point of lying about what he can and can't remember Trump having said, even though he was present.
Trump, we know, likes to surround himself with generals, perhaps for the macho vibe or because he hopes some additional respect will rub off on him. He has appointed Marine Gen. Jim Mattis to run the Pentagon and Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, while McMaster replaced yet another general, the oft-investigated Michael Flynn, as national security adviser. In his book, McMaster recounts how often the Johnson administration would stage presidential photo-ops with generals to create a veneer of consultation, and would trot out the brass to defend positions they had neither formulated nor supported.


“Above all President Johnson needed reassurance,” McMaster writes. “He wanted advisers who would tell him what he wanted to hear, who would find solutions even if there were none to be found. Bearers of bad news or those who expressed views that ran counter to his priorities would hold little sway.”


McMaster displays nothing but disdain for LBJ, for reasons that echo. He was a president with a “real propensity for lying,” McMaster writes, obsessed with loyalty, focused on his political fortunes at the expense of the nation’s needs, paranoid about dissent and leaks, and willing to consume the credibility of decorated military officers to cover for his duplicity. Those around him, however well intentioned, became complicit or compromised, manipulators or manipulated. [...] “The president was lying, and he expected the Chiefs to lie as well or, at least, to withhold the whole truth,” McMaster explains. “Although the president should not have placed the Chiefs in that position, the flag officers should not have tolerated it when he had.”


Gen. Harold Johnson, the Army chief of staff at the time, “did not resign, resist or object” to the president’s policies, despite his personal misgivings, McMaster writes with clear disapproval.
Oh, the irony sir. Oh, the irony.
He came to regret the choice, McMaster writes. “Harold Johnson’s inaction haunted him for the rest of his life.”
Read your own book, McMaster. You could learn something.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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