‘New York Review Of Books’ Reviews Lt. Gen. McMaster, And Hilarity Ensues

The Long March
U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Hailey D. Clay)

Remember when Michael Jordan tried his hand at professional baseball? I recalled that image when I read an article in the “New York Review of Books” assessing the performance of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as President Trump’s national security advisor. Everyone is saying today that McMaster's days are numbered, in the single digits.

I mean, the “NYRoB” is your go-to periodical if you want to get the latest academic word on T.S. Eliot, or to see whether it is time to short Sylvia Plath’s stock. But it is not where I would go to understand the U.S. military today.

Here’s the part that really got me. Veteran Long Marchers may recall that I was pretty pro-Obama, albeit with some qualms about his foreign policy. But this paragraph makes me gag:

Obama’s NSC, which essentially laid out the foreign policy agenda for the State and Defense Departments to implement, opened the White House to occasionally justified charges of micromanagement and control-freakery. But the larger reality was that international affairs had become too complex and the news cycle too fast to allow US foreign policy to proceed without centralized, top-down supervision. The merits of this approach were manifest in a number of accomplishments and initiatives, including the killing of Osama bin Laden, the strategic rebalancing toward Asia, and, perhaps most notably, the negotiation of the Iran nuclear deal.

That sounds like Ben Rhodes wrote it. But that arrogant young fellow probably didn’t, because then it would have mentioned how he liberated Burma. (How’s that working out, btw?)

Were I to re-write that paragraph, I would have mentioned the Obama White House’s persistent ignorance of how the military works (and how the law and chain of command work). I probably would have thrown in, as an example, the mishandling of General Mattis when he was at Central Command. I also would have mentioned the Iran nuclear deal, but balanced it by mentioning that President Obama set a “red line” in Syria in the summer of 2012 and then failed to enforce it. I’d add that since Obama left office, we appear to have lost a general war in the Middle East that has been won by Russia, Syria and, most of all, Iran. I might have also said that the Obama Administration took its eye off the ball in Iraq. (And yes, I write all that as someone who voted for Obama twice.)

And I might have said that Obama should have dealt more seriously with torture committed by and for CIA officials. He didn’t want a fight with the intelligence community. But sometimes you just have to do your job, because you need to establish the historical record so future presidents don’t appoint to high positions people who violated American law.

But the author of the NYROB article, one Jonathan Stevenson, was of course part of all that. He was “Director for Political-Military Affairs, Middle East and North Africa, at the National Security Council from 2011 to 2013.” 


(U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland)

GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.

Read More Show Less
An undated image of Hoda Muthana provided by her attorney, Hassan Shibly. (Associated Press)

Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.

Read More Show Less
U.S. soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018. Picture taken November 1, 2018. (U.S. Army/Zoe Garbarino/Handout via Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.

Read More Show Less
Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)

With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"

But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.

Read More Show Less
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton

A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.

The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.

Read More Show Less