After all the ado over the withdrawal of General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser, Team Trump has named in his stead Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, who has been an influential, up-and-coming leader throughout the post-9/11 period, especially in Iraq.
I’ve heard McMaster give a public address on understanding the utility and limits of military force and the need for leaders to better understand the many human variables involved in that profession, and can vouch that his reputation for being a heavyweight military intellectual is well-deserved. In an age where the military increasingly leans on impersonal technology and engineering, McMaster stands out with his PhD in History — and his emphasis on the many lessons a military leader can learn in that field. He is easily on par with the “Warrior Monk,” retired General James Mattis, who is now serving as the Secretary of Defense.
Flynn, on the other hand, is a documented loose cannon of sorts. His is not the temperament you need in order to balance Trump’s tendency toward impulsiveness. McMaster is far and away a better choice, and frankly should have been the original selection.
It’s my hope the current administration will stop involving the U.S. in an ever-increasing number of piddly half-hearted wars abroad. But if the U.S. does have to face a major military challenge, or chooses to “go big” in the war on terror vice the constant inconclusive simmer of the last 15 years, two of the most qualified men available (Mattis and McMaster) will be at the helm. Say what you will about Trump, but he’s not afraid to surround himself with smart, candid people. To me, that’s the mark of a leader, whatever his personal flaws.