Published: Sun, August 06, 2017
World News | By Cecilia Wilkerson

Is National Security Adviser McMaster on Thin Ice at the White House?

Is National Security Adviser McMaster on Thin Ice at the White House?

Amid a campaign against him from sections of the right wing media, president Trump on Friday re-affirmed his confidence in three star lieutenant general and national security adviser HR McMaster.

Retired Army Colonel Pete Mansoor, who worked closely with McMaster, told Politico that "there is a split in the White House between the Bannon camp of ideologues and the McMaster-Mattis-Tillerson camp of more centrist intellectuals".

Mr Trump had recently pondered a different role for General McMaster.

McMaster, for example, dismissed top Middle East adviser Derek Harvey, last week amid reports that Harvey'd become too close to Trump's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon - a bitter rival of McMaster. "Conservative Review reports that from ".interviews with several current and former members of President Trump's inner circle, a profile of McMaster has emerged as a man fiercely opposed to strengthening the USA alliance with the Jewish state".

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Though Harvey has a reputation as a belligerent Iran hawk, his and McMaster's views on the the Islamic Republic deal did not result in his dismissal, aides said.

Although Trump earlier this year gave Mattis the authority to deploy USA military forces as he sees fit, in fact the defense secretary's plans to add around 4,000 more US troops to the 8,400 now deployed in Afghanistan are being caught up in the delay surrounding the strategy, the officials said.

McMaster's firing of Ezra Cohen-Watnick on Wednesday is linked to the arrival of John Kelly, the former secretary of homeland security who took over as chief of staff on Monday.

What's more, allies of McMaster "have accused Bannon and his protege Sebastian Gorka, a cable-news mainstay, of waging a concerted campaign to minimize the national security adviser's influence".

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General McMaster had sought to remove him in March when Central Intelligence Agency leaders raised concerns about him, but Mr Cohen-Watnick appealed to Mr Trump's top advisers, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. The right-wing website founded by Fox News' Tucker Carlson, interviewed a former Trump administration official who said: "the president isn't a big fan of what McMaster's doing".

On Friday, Trump pushed back against pressure to oust McMaster, stressing their solid working relationship. The Atlantic article further noted that Rich Higgins, senior director for strategic planning, had been fired in late July after writing a memo on globalists and Islamist collaborating to subvert Trump's policy agenda. "He's one of the few people who can articulate Trump's vision effectively", an official told the website. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue - McMaster doesn't.

In response to "the president's skepticism that winning in Afghanistan was even possible", McMaster also reportedly showed Trump promising photos of the country. The White House has said no decision has been made.

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