Friday, August 11, 2017

The Other Side of the Bannon-McMaster Conflict

We all remember the character assassination the mainstream media did on Sarah Palin. It was ruthless and many Americans have negative views of the governor without really knowing much about her. Decades early the MSM did the same to Ross Perot. Of course there have been others.
This week we are witnessing another relentless character assassination though this time from the conservative Internet news source – Breitbart News - that I read daily.
Now it is no secret this is all about conflicts between White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and National Security Advisor LTG H. R. McMaster.  The common opinion is it is a feud between two competitive individuals.  However, it has become a one-sided media assault.
All the attacks are coming from Breitbart News of which Steve Bannon used to be executive chair. Every day this week there are multiple stories decrying McMaster as a traitor to Trump. We have not heard a word from H.R. McMaster. We have not heard his side of the story or any statement in his own defense.  And we won’t.
LTG McMaster is a professional soldier who follows strict standards of decorum. He doesn’t tweet his side, he doesn’t hold press conferences to talk about himself and he doesn’t have a connection to a news site. Hence all we hear is all one-sided, and that one side sounds far more like character assassination than objective journalism.

I’ve known H.R. for over thirty years, and the stories told this week do not reflect the real story. I hope the readers here are wise enough to realize the media blitz seems fishy.
LTG McMaster is not an Obama spy trying to undermine the President’s agenda. When he fired people last week it was because of keeping the integrity of the office he runs. A staff member can’t fire off an unvetted memo bypassing the chain of command, which was what happened in at least one case.  This shows disunity and dysfunction in the White House.  President Trump needs his NSA to have a single strategy – not a shotgun blasts of opinions.
Another accusation implies he is a toxic leader.  On the contrary: LTG McMaster is cordial, likable, has a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. He’s not the tyrant he is painted.
He is accused of being a holdover from the previous administration. This is nonsense, too. He’s in the Army. He can’t be political. He can’t support a candidate or a party. He can’t fundraise. He may have his political views, but he can never share them.  His loyalty is to the country. 
I can vouch that he is usually the best-informed of anyone in the room. Three or four times over the past decade I have disagreed with him and he always throws down an additional fact, or viewpoint that I hadn’t considered.  It’s humbling to withdraw from a good argument.
As far as what’s going on in the White House I can only speculate. Steve Bannon’s background is impressive. He has accomplished much. So has LTG McMaster. I offer up a little background for AT readers so as not fall into the right wing echo chamber without critical analysis.
CPT McMaster led his cavalry troop in the most intense tank battle of Desert Storm, the Battle of 73 Easting.  This aggressive battle action was what could be expected by the fierce rugby player from the West Point. He earned a Silver Star from this.
Later he earned a PhD and wrote a book, Dereliction of Duty, which sealed the historic fate of President Johnson. McMaster researched recently unclassified documents and uncovered the political motivation, which led Johnson to jump into Vietnam.  When it was published it was highly praised by Rush Limbaugh.  He then taught in the Social Sciences Department at West Point.
COL McMaster took his 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to Iraq and had remarkable success. Not because he was a fierce warrior, but because he was an astute thinker.  He realized what was going on in Iraq was complicated and there were many agendas of many factions. He solved the problem in Tal Afar. COL (now LTG) Sean MacFarland learned from McMaster and took those lessons to Ramadi where the war turned and President Bush declared the Surge to continue the secret to success. One part of McMaster’s success was in information operations, which I think was the best effort to date in the fourteen years we’ve been in Iraq.
As a general, he served in Afghanistan where he won great respect and could be counted on in the middle of the night to solve a crisis when the ambassador could not summoned.  I really can’t repeat the details.
A couple of years ago I heard him rattle off the top of his head thirty different groups in Syria all with their own power sources and agendas. The above average man in the street might be able to name Assad as the President and something about ISIS. We need the level of understanding LTG McMaster has for the NSA.
He didn’t get to where he is by accident. Look at his right sleeve and count the bars on his blue uniform. Each one represents six months away from home in combat. He has been a faithful, loyal husband for 32 years.
I have never met Steve Bannon, yet from what I know of LTG McMaster there is much more to what’s going on in news. Breitbart News keeps clamoring for President Trump to fire McMaster.  If the conservative base falls into believing these articles then we are hurting ourselves. We have the most capable person right now in the job. President Trump needs level-headedness and sound advice, not daily bickering.

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