aside Difficulties Of The Generals In The White House Managing US National Security

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TILLERSON/ TRUMP/ MATTIS

I have been blogging that it is more important than ever for the generals in the White House and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get along where none are forced out.

As of March 2018, there appears to be a concerted effort to oust the president’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster by April 1st. This coup is led by pro-Israeli leaders like Sheldon Adelson and Oracle’s CO-CEO Safra Catz who do not consider the general sufficiently aligned with their interests like NOT being against the US-Iran nuclear deal.

On an aside, Oracle hired the General Flynn appointed White House Intel staffer Ezra Cohen Watnick who had been fired by NSA head, General H.R. McMaster because Mr. Ezra was the one who passed intel data surreptitiously to the republican chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes of California. Since the Fall of 2017, the Oracle executives have been solely donating funds to the campaign coffers of Rep. Devin Nunes.

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As per 3/3/18 Times of Israel report by Matthew Lee and Josh Lederman, Safra Catz, the Israeli-born co-CEO of tech giant Oracle, is considered a leading candidate to replace US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, CNN reported (3/2/18).

“The report naming Catz as a potential choice to be President Donald Trump’s next national security adviser comes amid speculation that McMaster is set to leave the administration — reports his spokesman denied on Thursday.”

“Sheldon Adelson, a prominent donor to Republicans and pro-Israel causes, expressed support to Zionist Organization President Morton Klein in August regarding the group’s effort to push for McMaster’s removal, saying he was “enlightened” about McMaster after being told by Catz of a dinner she had had with the national security adviser.”

As per a 8/21/17 Times of Israel report, “The ZOA issued a report earlier this month alleging that McMaster is anti-Israel and charging that he is undermining Trump’s Middle East agenda and the US-Israel relationship by firing officials supportive of the Jewish state and critical of the Iran nuclear deal.”

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ADELSON (CENTER)/ NETANYAHU (R)

On March 4, 2018, Brian Bennett of the LA Times penned the following report, “McMaster caught in the middle as Mattis and Tillerson maneuver to constrain Trump on national security issues”

Excerpts:

“As President Trump appears to lurch from crisis to crisis on the world stage, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have quietly maneuvered to constrain an impulsive commander in chief, the latest sign of a national security team that is increasingly challenging the president.”

“Officials say the two senior Cabinet officers have slow-rolled requests for options on a wide range of policy goals, including exiting the Iran nuclear disarmament deal, reacting to missile strikes into Saudi Arabia by Iran-backed rebels in Yemen, pressuring longtime ally Pakistan by cutting U.S. military aid, and possible limited airstrikes on North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure.”

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“Trump is said to blame Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, bristling when his national security advisor has not presented the options he sought, or as quickly as he demanded them. That has given rise to multiple reports that McMaster could resign or be forced out in coming weeks, and added to the portrait of a White House in perpetual turmoil.”

“But when he walks into the Oval Office, McMaster is often caught in a carefully orchestrated manipulation by Mattis and Tillerson to slow the delivery of options they don’t want the president to take, according to two current White House officials and one former official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.”

“They are going to hide the ball from the president to keep him from doing stupid [stuff], there’s no doubt about it,” said another former official, a national security expert who served in the Trump administration transition and asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.”

ADELSON/ MCMASTER

“Other members of Trump’s national security team also have pushed back, increasingly in public, suggesting that some of the president’s top advisors have decided to speak out rather than acquiesce to what they see as false claims or dangerous policies.”

“In a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Feb. 13, six of the president’s hand-picked security chiefs — including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray — challenged or contradicted Trump’s stated views on Russia’s role in the 2016 election, the danger of Russian meddling in elections this fall, and whether a controversial GOP memo on surveillance was accurate.”

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“Last week, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, head of the National Security Agency and the Pentagon’s Cyber Command, told Congress he was concerned the White House had not ordered any retaliation against the Russian meddling, or given him new authority to block it in the future — a barely veiled criticism of the president.”

Russian President Vladimir “Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore ‘I can continue this activity,'” Rogers told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 27. “Clearly what we have done hasn’t been enough.”

“Even McMaster has pushed back — but then got bloodied for it.”

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“During a security conference last month in Munich, Germany, McMaster said the federal indictment of 13 Russians in the special counsel investigation provided “incontrovertible” evidence of Moscow’s meddling the 2016 election.”

“Trump furiously tweeted back that McMaster “forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed” by the Russian campaign.”

“The practice of Cabinet officials actively sandbagging presidential requests has several precedents in modern American history, but not on this scale.”

“The Pentagon misled President Lyndon B. Johnson about the effects of escalating the Vietnam War, a pattern of devastating bureaucratic misdirection that McMaster studied for his doctoral thesis and was the subject of his 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty,” which became a bestseller last year after he joined the White House.”

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“But with Trump, it is “a different kind of strategic withholding,” Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, said in a telephone interview.”

“Trump’s advisors fear he will say something rash or take an unplanned action, and are likely calculating that by slow-walking a potentially explosive action, his attention will turn to something else, Zelizer said.”

“Those kinds of fears of judgment or instantaneous action were never as great as they are today,” Zelizer said. “In part, advisors are just waiting out the time between his tweets and his fury, hoping to create some sort of stability.”

“One concern among advisors close to Mattis and Tillerson is that McMaster is willing to present Trump with options the president has requested for a so-called bloody-nose military strike at North Korea in an effort to disable its nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles before Pyongyang achieves the ability to launch a nuclear-tipped missile at the United States.”

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McMaster has told staff that he would present the options, even though he agrees with most foreign policy experts that a limited series of U.S. airstrikes would spark a full-scale war on the Korean peninsula.

“The Pentagon, which has warned of hundreds of thousands of casualties if war breaks out, has been slow to deliver the bloody-nose options to the White House, however.”

“In addition, Tillerson asked the State Department last month to make a list of all the sanctions and other actions — public and covert — that the United States and other nations are taking against North Korea. The goal, aides said, was to present them to Trump to convince him not to launch a preemptive strike.”

“Trump was frustrated in April after Iran-backed Houthi insurgents based in Yemen attempted to ram a high-speed boat packed with explosives into a Saudi Aramco fuel terminal. Trump demanded more U.S. military options to counter the possibility of similar attacks, but was not satisfied with the list he got.”

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“Trump also asked for ways to deter Iran from sending short-range ballistic missiles into Yemen; Houthi rebels have fired the missiles into Saudi Arabia in recent months. Again, military options were slow in coming.”

“Trump publicly called for cutting aid to Pakistan in August, and privately railed against the country for not doing more against terrorist groups. He got nowhere until Jan. 1, when he tweeted about what he called Pakistan’s “lies & deceit.” Many saw the tweet as a way to short-circuit the bureaucracy.”

Three days later, the State Department announced it was freezing as much as $1.3 billion in annual aid to Pakistan.

“Mattis and Tillerson are holding the line because they don’t want to rush to war any faster than we otherwise would,” Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and National Security Council spokesman under President Obama, said in an interview. “It’s not that unrealistic to be concerned that if the president is in a petulant mood, he will start an actual war.”

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“Feeding the friction at the White House is a widespread view among McMaster’s staff that Tillerson and Mattis don’t treat him as an equal.”

“When McMaster came to the White House he decided not to retire from the Army, and stayed on active duty as a three-star general, technically outranked by Cabinet officials and Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this, where it is Cabinet secretaries bigfooting the national security advisor and diminishing that role, as Mattis and Tillerson seem to be doing,” Price said. “In my mind, it is pretty unprecedented.”

“Even McMaster’s critics say he has brought order to what was a chaotic and unscripted policy shop under his predecessor, Michael Flynn, who was fired because he allegedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence and the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, about lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn subsequently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, part of a plea deal with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.”

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“Now Trump and McMaster see each other nearly every day. Yet the battle-hardened Army general hasn’t developed a natural rapport with Trump.”

“I don’t know that the president ever really clicked with him,” said Michael Allen, who worked on the George W. Bush National Security Council and advised the Trump transition. But, he added, McMaster has “made a positive difference under difficult circumstances.”

“The most dramatic showdown came last summer, when Trump was furious he was being asked to certify the Iran nuclear agreement to Congress for a second time without a menu of tough actions to take.”

“Advisors, including Tillerson and McMaster, favored renewing the certification and had to repeatedly tell the president they hadn’t prepared other options, and would have to tip off allies if Trump was about to reverse course.

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The president was furious.”

“This is never … happening again!” Trump said, using an expletive, according to 2 people, one who heard him and another who was briefed on the meeting. Neither would agree to be identified while discussing internal deliberations.”

“At that point, Trump’s personal interactions with McMaster “bottomed out,” one White House official said.”

“Since then, McMaster has been more forceful in demanding fulsome policy proposals that hue to Trump’s demands, a stance that has lead to repeated clashes with Mattis in particular — a Trump favorite the president calls “Mad Dog.”

“Trump had lunch Thursday with Mattis and Pence in the president’s private dining room. The president met with McMaster in the Oval Office, aides said.”

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“The Pentagon denied that Mattis was deliberately slow-rolling any military options to the White House.”

“The Secretary speaks to the President regularly. He provides options and his best military advice on a variety of national security matters,” Lt. Col. Roger Cabiness, a Defense Department spokesman, said.”

 “Tillerson “feels it is important to make his position known if it sometimes differs from others, and he would expect others to do too,” Goldstein said. “Foreign policy is run at the State Department, so the fact that the secretary is vocal about what he believes how things should go is what people would expect from secretary of State.”

“And the White House has sought to squelch reports that McMaster will soon be gone.”

7 comments

  1. Gronda, it scares me when the more reasonable folks consider leaving. We are safer as a country with Bannon, Flynn, Cohen-Watnick et al. But the folks who try to temper the tempestuous, impulsive and uninformed President are desperately needed. The military supports the claims of our allies and economists that tariffs will hurt the global economy and security. Yet, the President is listening to Peter Navarro who is saying everyone else is wrong. The President did not bet this change and so now he is doubling down on a bad path forward. We need McMaster, but I understand fully how his boss can just wear you out. Keith

  2. Dear Keith,

    The Washington DC grapevine has it that HR McMaster does not always get along with General Mattis and Sec of State Rex Tillerson but “we the people” cannot afford this dissension in the ranks.

    There are forces trying to oust H.R. McMaster because of differences in ideology. I don’t want General McMaster to leave at this time because of this pressure.

    For example there is a rumor that Safra Catz co-CEO of Oracle Corp. is under consideration to replace H.R. McMaster. The Oracle executives including Sofra Catz have been donating heavily to Rep. Devin Nunes.

    Oracle hired the WH Intel staffer who shared intel with Rep Devin Nunes and who was fired because of this by H.R. McMaster.

    In the past Sofra Catz was at a dinner where the NSA Adviser General H.R. McMaster was present and who allegedly made some unflattering comments about President Trump.

    Safra Catz then contacts her friend Sheldon Adelson to share the story about what Gen. McMaster allegedly said at their dinner. Sheldon Adelson then puts his weight against the general, starting around Sep. 2017.

    This is the faction who have been behind the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and ENDING the US-Iran Nuclear deal bigly.
    History:

    The White House said on June 1st of 2017 that President Trump had signed a waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act to postpone the embassy’s relocation. A president must sign the waiver every six months in order to suspend the relocation, a rule that is outlined in the 1995 law.

    And during his first trip to Israel as president, he did not announce the embassy relocation, as some had expected he would. This angered Israeli officials.

    The pledge looked on hold in October 2017, when President Trump said he wanted to first try to make peace between Israel and Palestine before moving the embassy.

    During his December 2017 announcement on the new policy change, this same President Trump said he wanted to make clear it “is not intended, in any way, to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.”

    The million dollar question is what happened between Oct 2017- December 2017?

    As per a 2/28/18 Jerusalem Post article:

    “Kushner’s business ties to Israel are reportedly being investigated by Robert Mueller, the US special counsel probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.”

    “Mueller learned that Kushner directed a campaign to combat the Obama administration’s 11th-hour effort in December 2016 to pass an anti-settlement resolution through the UN Security Council. During that lobbying, Kushner may have contacted the Russian ambassador in an attempt to sway their UN vote.”

    “Kushner’s family has a long personal relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has stayed over at their home. Netanyahu reportedly slept in Jared’s childhood bedroom, according to a 2017 New York Times”

    Hugs, Gronda

  3. It seems Trump’s base, the alt-right considers his petulance a positive trait. They mistakenly view his actions as draining the White House swamp b/c from the alt-right perspective, Trump can do no wrong. I find it fascinating how quickly Washington drama devolves.

    LOL, although Trump admires and respects President Putin…. he’s no Putin the puppetmaster!

    • Dear 1EarthUnited,

      The supporters of President Trump are happy with the results so far and they don’t seem to mind his lack of decency.

      Fortunately they are not the majority of the US population but they are the president’s base, and therein lies their power.

      If those who are a part of the bubble which includes like minded folks, FOX TV and right wing media, they are not hearing the viewpoints of the majority. When they lose in many of the upcoming elections, this will be the reason.

      The latest February 2018 poll as per Politico shows that 58% of Americans think that the country is on the wrong track. These are not good numbers but they include Republicans as well. But if one were to poll the president’s base, it would probably reflect over 80% who think the country is headed in the right direction and less than 20% that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

      Unfortunately, the president’s base represents about 37% of the population which means the majority of folks are outside his base.

      Hugs, Gronda

    • Dear Roger,

      I love your humor.

      The smartest thing both N and S Korea officials could do, is to work something out between the two.

      If President Trump decided to preemptively strike N. Korea, it would be S Korea which would pay the price. Both need to remove this as a possible outcome.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • And to illustrate that Trump and his crew of amateurs are out of their depth. Japan apparently is not comfortable with the idea of two Koreas getting on together.
        It’s a region with its own very complicated histories. And everything needs to be conducted in subtle and choreographed ways
        (If only the administration and military of the 1960s had read of the long history of Vietnam and its relationship with the neighbouring peoples they could have concluded, the whole area would have been best left alone.
        Moscow was in despair with Hanoi during negotiations with the US & South Vietnam, the phrase ‘stubborn little bastards’ was in common use.)

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