Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Quick McTake on McMaster

I am traveling to the ISA, so I only have a few quick things to say about the new National Security Adviser:
  • McMaster is hell of a lot better than Flynn.  Very much on the opposite side of the sane, good for America spectrum.  He has made good decisions in hard places, he's been anti-Islamophobia, and opposed to Russian aggression.  So, woot for that!
  • I am skeptical it will make much of a difference.  The NSC process may become less messy, but if big decisions still go through the alternative structure set up by Bannon, bad decisions will still be the output of this admin.
  • As Exum notes, the key is: who is the last person to talk to Trump before he makes a decision?  Trump is that open to manipulation, and I can't help but think Bannon will be closer to Trump.  Unless and until Bannon is kicked out of the WH I have only ruthless pessimism about this government's foreign policy.
  • I am not sure what KT MacFarland means--if she stays, it could mean that McMaster is neutered already or it could mean he is confident that he can marginalize her.  BUT the Deputy NSA runs the Deputies Committee, where many decisions are made and where much implementation is monitored.  If the DC is broken, then McMaster will have to do a heap to work to compensate.
  • Finally, yet another military guy?!  FFS, the NSA can be a civilian.  But Trump has a limited imagination--Bolton or a general/admiral. With the SecDef being a retired general, it is more important than ever to have an NSA who is not a military guy.

But woot, of course, because Trump has so thoroughly eroded our standards that we will celebrate that he chose a good guy, eclipsing all of the problems--that the Bannon gang is still ensconced in the White House, that McMaster may not really have the ability to hire and fire staff, that Trump makes policy by tweet and I don't see that changing, etc. 

Still, this is good news, even if McMaster can only make a marginal difference.  Damn, there I am embracing lowered expectations.  Oy.

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