National Security Advisor: McMaster is a superb choice but he is walking into a difficult situation

As Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster is as a new national security advisor what do you expect from him to bring to the White House, what is needed in the current situation to bring to the role of national security advisor? Read few comments.

Lt. Gen H. R. McMaster. Credit: https://www.csis.org/

Lt. Gen H. R. McMaster. Credit: https://www.csis.org/

Peter Mansoor, Chair in Military History, Ohio State University

H. R. McMaster is a superb choice to be the National Security Adviser. He is a thoughtful and intelligent senior leader who speaks his mind when the situation warrants. I have served with H. R. on numerous occasions. He is a decorated war hero, an award-winning historian, and an accomplished public intellectual who will tell the president what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. H. R. is walking into a difficult situation, but if anyone can make it work for the good of the nation, he can.

Robert Farley, Assistant Professor, Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky

General McMaster is almost universally well-respected in the national security community, both among soldiers and civilians. He brings a fine analytical mind, a wealth of experience, and a scholarly understanding of national security problems to the NSA position. The biggest questions going forward will be:

1. How much control does he have over his own staff?
2. How much authority will he have relative to more political actors such as Steve Bannon?
3. Will Trump actually listen to him?

The main job of the NSA is to coordinate all of the departments and agencies that manage US national security. McMaster’s reputation as a strong thinker should help, at least initially. We’ll see how things go from there.

Hal Brands, Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University

McMaster’s appointment is a bright spot at the end of a very bad month in US foreign policy. McMaster brings a sharp intellect and great integrity to the job, and he literally wrote the book on the need for military professionals to speak truth to power when bad or dangerous ideas are being considered. Those values are badly needed now, and they will probably be severely tested in the Trump White House.

For McMaster to be effective, he will need to be empowered to pick his own people and assert control over the policy making process. He will also need the president to understand that process and bureaucracy are not necessarily the enemy of good policy. If Trump understands that, McMaster may be able to effective. If Trump doesn’t understand that, no national security adviser can be effective.

 

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