Trump's New Adviser Is Known for Respecting Muslims - By Eli Lake
In some ways, President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, is a lot like the man he is replacing, Michael Flynn. Both rose to the rank of three-star generals in the Army. Their worldviews were formed during the war in Iraq.
At key points in their careers, the two generals were withering critics of the groupthink endemic to the strategic class. For Flynn this was a devastating paper he published in 2010 critiquing intelligence collection in Afghanistan. For McMaster this was his 1997 book on the failures of the military leadership to speak truth to power during the Vietnam War.
But McMaster and Flynn are very different in their assessment of America's relationship with Islam and how this influences the long war on terror. In recent years, Flynn has focused on defeating the ideology of radical Islam. McMaster, on the other hand, has focused on getting radical Muslims to turn on al Qaeda and other terrorists.
Let's start with Flynn. Like the president he served, the retired general believes America should wage a political war against radical Islam. In his more heated moments, Flynn spoke about Islam itself as a political ideology, and one that is at war with Western values. Radical Islam's threat to the West was a key theme in his 2016 book "Field of Fight," which he co-wrote with historian Michael Ledeen. In interviews with me over the years, Flynn has taken a more nuanced view on this than some others in Trump's orbit. Nonetheless, his approach, like Trump's, broke with George W. Bush and Barack Obama in emphasizing the differences between political Islam and Western values.
McMaster has taken a different approach. He helped rewrite the Army's counterinsurgency doctrine during the Iraq war, to apply the lessons of this kind of asymmetric warfare to the Muslim world. This meant in practice that he learned how to make allies out of Muslim fighters who had killed Americans, to turn the local population against al Qaeda. In McMaster's war, ideological purity was a hindrance to an effective campaign for the hearts and minds of pious Muslims.
Iraqis and Muslims won't see him as someone who hates Islam, even if the Trump administration is perceived that way. I have never heard him say anything against Islam," Jensen said. "Being respectful is one of his defining characteristics."
Privately, some of McMaster's allies worry that he will not have the power and influence of other political aides to Trump, like chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon has called Islam a "religion of submission." He has a seat on the National Security Council; McMaster will now lead it. - Read More, Bloomberg