State Department Waging “Open War” on White House


Either Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is working against the Trump agenda or he is not competent enough to drain the State Department Obama hold-over swamp. I believe it is the former more than the latter. Either way, President Trump needs to fire Tillerson and get a Secretary of State that can competently execute the Trump agenda in foreign policy. ESPECIALLY as pertaining to Israel!

 

JRH 9/18/17

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State Department Waging “Open War” on White House

 

By Soeren Kern

September 17, 2017 at 5:00 am

Gatestone Institute

 

  • “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.” — Foreign policy operative, quoted in theWashington Free Beacon.

 

  • Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Rex Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict President Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

 

  • “Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.” — Veteran foreign policy analyst, quoted in the Free Beacon.

 

The U.S. State Department has backed away from a demand that Israel return $75 million in military aid which was allocated to it by the U.S. Congress.

 

The repayment demand, championed by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was described as an underhanded attempt by the State Department to derail a campaign pledge by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to improve relations with the Jewish state.

 

The dispute is the just the latest example of what appears to be a growing power struggle between the State Department and the White House over the future direction of American foreign policy.

 

The controversy goes back to the Obama administration’s September 2016 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel, which pledged $38 billion in military assistance to Jerusalem over the next decade. The MOU expressly prohibits Israel from requesting additional financial aid from Congress.

 

Congressional leaders, who said the MOU violates the constitutional right of lawmakers to allocate U.S. aid, awarded Israel an additional $75 million in assistance in the final appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.

 

Tillerson had argued that Israel should return the $75 million in order to stay within the limits established by the Obama administration. The effort provoked a strong reaction from Congress, which apparently prompted Tillerson to back down.

 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “strongly warned the State Department that such action would be unwise and invite unwanted conflict with Israel,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

 

Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

 

“As Iran works to surround Israel on every border, and Hezbollah and Hamas rearm, we must work to strengthen our alliance with Israel, not strain it. Congress has the right to allocate money as it deems necessary, and security assistance to Israel is a top priority. Congress is ready to ensure Israel receives the assistance it needs to defend its citizens.”

 

A veteran congressional advisor told the Free Beacon:

 

“This is a transparent attempt by career staffers in the State Department to f*ck with the Israelis and derail the efforts of Congressional Republicans and President Trump to rebuild the US-Israel relationship. There’s no reason to push for the Israelis to return the money, unless you’re trying to drive a wedge between Israel and Congress, which is exactly what this is. It won’t work.”

 

Another foreign policy operative said: “It’s not clear to me why the Secretary of State wishes to at once usurp the powers of the Congress and then to derail his boss’s rapprochement with the Israeli government.”

 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and President Donald J. Trump (right) on February 1, 2017. (Image source: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

 

Since he was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1, Tillerson and his advisors at the State Department have made a number of statements and policy decisions that contradict Trump’s key campaign promises on foreign policy, especially regarding Israel and Iran.

 

August 10. The State Department hosted representatives of the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), an umbrella group established by the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of mainstreaming political Islam in the United States. Behind closed doors, they reportedly discussed what they said was Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine and the removal of all Israeli control of the Temple Mount and holy areas of Jerusalem. Observers said the meeting was part of larger effort by anti-Israel organizations to drive a wedge between the Trump administration and Israel. The USCMO includes a number of organizations, including American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which promote “extreme anti-Israel views” and “anti-Zionist” propaganda, and which support boycotts of the Jewish state.

 

July 19. The State Department’s new “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” blamed Israel for Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. It attributed Palestinian violence to: “lack of hope in achieving statehood;” “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank;” “settler violence;” and “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount.” The report also characterized Palestinian Authority payments to the families of so-called martyrs as “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners…to reintegrate them into society.”

 

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) called on the State Department to hold the PA accountable in State Department Country reports: “The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism…. At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis. In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause — PA leadership.”

 

June 14. Tillerson voiced opposition to designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, saying that such a classification would complicate Washington’s relations in the Middle East. During his confirmation hearings on January 11, by contrast, Tillerson lumped the Brotherhood with al-Qaeda when talking about militant threats in the region. He said:

 

“Eliminating ISIS would be the first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies. The demise of ISIS would also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”

 

June 13. During testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said he had received reassurances from President Mahmoud Abbas that the Palestinian Authority would end the practice of paying a monthly stipend to the families of suicide bombers and other attackers, commonly referred to by Palestinians as martyrs. One day later, Palestinian officials contradicted Tillerson, saying that there are no plans to stop payments to families of Palestinians killed or wounded carrying out attacks against Israelis.

 

May 22. Tillerson sidestepped questions on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, while telling reporters aboard Air Force One they were heading to “Tel Aviv, home of Judaism.” Asked directly whether he considers the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, Tillerson replied: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

 

May 15. In an interview with Meet the Press, Tillerson appeared publicly to renege on Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

 

“The president, I think rightly, has taken a very deliberative approach to understanding the issue itself, listening to input from all interested parties in the region, and understanding what such a move, in the context of a peace initiative, what impact would such a move have.”

 

Tillerson also appeared to equate the State of Israel and the Palestinians:

 

“As you know, the president has recently expressed his view that he wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine. And so I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

 

Critics of this stance have argued that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would, instead, advance the peace process by “shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

 

March 8. The State Department confirmed that the Obama administration’s $221 million payment to the Palestinian Authority, approved just hours before Trump’s inauguration, had reached its destination. The Trump administration initially had vowed to freeze the payment.

 

In July 2017, the Free Beacon reported that Tillerson’s State Department was waging an “open political war” with the White House on a range of key issues, including the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Iran portfolio, and other matters:

 

“The tensions have fueled an outstanding power battle between the West Wing and State Department that has handicapped the administration and resulted in scores of open positions failing to be filled with Trump confidantes. This has allowed former Obama administration appointees still at the State Department to continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda.”

 

A veteran foreign policy analyst interviewed by the Free Beacon laid the blame squarely on Tillerson:

 

“Foggy Bottom [a metonym for the State Department] is still run by the same people who designed and implemented Obama’s Middle East agenda. Tillerson was supposed to clean house, but he left half of them in place and he hid the other half in powerful positions all over the building. These are career staffers committed to preventing Trump from reversing what they created.”

 

Notable holdovers from the Obama administration are now driving the State Department’s Iran policy:

 

Michael Ratney, a top advisor to former Secretary of State John Kerry on Syria policy. Under the Trump administration, Ratney’s role at the State Department has been expanded to include Israel and Palestine issues. Ratney, who was the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem between 2012 and 2015, oversaw $465,000 in U.S. grants to wage a smear to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office in 2015 parliamentary elections, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Ratney admitted to Senate investigators that he deleted emails containing information about the Obama administration’s relationship with the group.

 

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., a career foreign service officer who serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Shannon, the State Department’s fourth-ranking official, has warned that scrapping the Iran deal would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Any effort to step away from the deal would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” he said. His statement indicates that Shannon could be expected to lead efforts to resist any attempts to renege or renegotiate the deal; critics of the deal say that Iran’s continued missile testing has given Trump one more reason to tear up his predecessor’s deal with the Islamist regime.

 

Chris Backemeyer is now the highest-ranking official at the State Department for Iran policy. During the Obama administration, Backemeyer made his career by selling the Iran deal by persuading multinational corporations to do business with Iran as part of an effort to conclude the Iran nuclear deal.

 

Ratney, Shannon and Backemeyer, along with Tillerson, reportedly prevailed upon Trump twice to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Jerusalem Post explained:

 

Washington was briefly abuzz on the afternoon of July 17 when rumors began to circulate that President Trump was eager to declare that Iran was in breach of the conditions laid out in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA).

 

Those receptive antennas were further heightened given the previous signals sent. After all, the State Department already released talking points to reporters on the decision to recertify Iran. The Treasury Department also had a package of fresh sanctions on over a dozen Iranian individuals and entities ready to announce to appease the hawks who were eager to cut loose from the deal.

 

But Trump didn’t want to recertify Iran, nor did he want to the last time around in April. That evening, a longtime Middle East analyst close to senior White House officials involved in the discussions described the scene to me: “Tillerson essentially told the president, ‘we just aren’t ready with our allies to decertify.’ The president retorted, ‘Isn’t it your job to get our allies ready?’ to which Tillerson said, ‘Sorry sir, we’re just not ready.'” According to this source, Secretary Tillerson pulled the same maneuver when it came to recertification in April by waiting until the last minute before finally admitting the State Department wasn’t ready. On both occasions he simply offered something to the effect of, “We’ll get ’em next time.”

 

______________________

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.

 

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Ambassador John R. Bolton, Chairman

 

Nina Rosenwald, President


Naomi H. Perlman, Vice President

 

An Intro to … Reassign McMaster


Intro by John R. Houk

Intro © August 30, 2017

 

Yesterday I posted Justin Smith’s critique of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster entitled “A Bitter Struggle”. Justin’s theme is the obvious purge of Trump loyalists from the Trump National Security teams and the incomprehensible protection of Obama holdovers.

 

If you read Justin’s submission, and you should, you must have come away wondering: Why in the world would President Trump allow people supportive of Obama’s destructive to the USA agenda to remain when the President promised to drain the swamp?

 

After you read Ryan Mauro’s “25 Reasons to Reassign General H.R. McMaster,” the question should be a question you cannot get out of your head.

 

I need to stipulate my position for clarity to show you where I stand. I’m a Conservative that subscribes to the Make America Great Again (MAGA) agenda and to be honest, I have some of the Neocon tendencies that lead to American Exceptionalism in foreign policy but have abandoned the concept of nation building in the Muslim world. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have proven that Western Concepts of Liberty and Islamic culture are totally inimical to each other. Yet a strong America needs a strong-superior military to enforce American National Interests.

 

Also, years of a cursory study of Islam has not on has shown that American Constitutional Liberty and Islamic theopolitical ideology are incompatible, but as a Christian I can say Islam revered writings are deceptively as well as completely immersed in Antichrist ideology. I’m a Christian but every single Jew should be aware the Islamic revered writings even have more hate for Jews than for Christians.

 

AND pertaining to Israel, I am a Christian Zionist that believes the entirety of the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are to their descendants which today embodies the Jews. A term applied to all twelve tribes of the Hebrews that King David ruled as Israel. There NEVER has been a nation or national people called Palestinians.

 

Every single thing I mentioned – as you will soon discover – is something H.R. McMaster is diametrically opposed to!

 

JRH 8/30/17

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25 Reasons to Reassign General H.R. McMaster

 

By RYAN MAURO 

August 27, 2017 

Clarion Project

 

National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster is moving aggressively—and successfully—to maximize his power in the Trump Administration. President Trump is standing by his side as anti-Islamist writers and think-tanks like the Center for Security Policy call for his termination or reassignment.

 

McMaster’s ascent is a sudden change in the balance of power in the White House. President Trump was widely reported to be so disappointed with McMaster that Trump met with former U.N. ambassador John Bolton to discuss replacing him. Trump and Bolton concluded it was not the right move.

 

Then, Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly became the new chief of staff. He told McMaster that he wanted him to stay. McMaster’s chief rivals, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Deputy Assistant Dr. Sebastian Gorka, were then pressured into resigning.

 

The criticisms of McMaster are well-warranted and are not the fruits of overactive imaginations among bigoted “alt-right” smear-merchants, like Senator McCain characterizes them.

 

Here are 25 reasons that President Trump should fire National Security Adviser McMaster or, if he’s willing to, reassign him to a military position where he can excel on the battlefield as he did before.

 

  1. He is not on board with Trump’s vision of waging an ideological war against radical Islam (or whatever terminology you prefer).

 

You simply cannot have a national security adviser who is at odds with the fundamental pillar of your national security strategy.

 

In 2014, McMaster said that the “Islamic State is not Islamic.” He went so far as to describe jihadists as “really irreligious organizations.”

 

In that speech, he rejected the notion that jihadists are motivated by a religion-based ideology. Instead, he claimed they are motivated by “fear,” a “sense of honor” and their “interests,” which he described as the roots of human conflict for thousands of years. He recommended that the U.S. must begin “understanding those human dimensions.”

 

In May, McMaster stated in an interview that the jihadists “are not religious people.”

 

A source close to National Security Council (NSC) personnel revealed that McMaster opposed President Trump’s summit in Riyadh, one of the high points of his presidency thus far. McMaster felt it was “too ambitious.”

 

In Trump’s speech announcing his strategy for Afghanistan, words like “radical Islamic terrorism” were missing. This is clearly the influence of McMaster. In his resignation letter to Trump, Dr. Gorka referenced these omissions and said it “proves that a crucial element of your presidential campaign has been lost.”

 

Here’s the Clarion take:

 

VIDEO: The Politically Incorrect Raheel Raza

 

Posted by Clarion Project

Published on Mar 21, 2017

 

Raheel Raza says it like it is. If calling out radical Islam is politically incorrect then so be it. Raheel is bold enough to criticize and challenge radical Islam, are you?

 

  1. Endorsed a book favorable towards “non-militant” Islamists

In 2010, McMaster endorsed a book that states, as one of its central arguments, “It is the Militant Islamists who are our adversary…They must not be confused with Islamists.”

 

The book contends that our policy should not be aimed at Islamism overall but only Islamist terrorist groups. That is the mindset of those who advocate working with the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood and the “moderate” Taliban.

 

McMaster describes the book as “excellent” and “deserv[ing] a wide readership.” Raymond Ibrahim reviewed the book and found serious errors, ones that now have dangerous consequences with McMaster as national security adviser.

 

 

  1. Opposes designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization

 

Based on the above two issues, it should be no surprise that McMaster reportedly opposes designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

 

  1. Opposes a tough stance on Qatar’s support of terrorism and extremism

 

McMaster opposed President Trump’s tough stance on Qatar when our Arab allies confronted the tiny country, despite the sea of proof that our so-called “ally” is a major sponsor of Islamist terrorism and extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

 

McMaster, like Secretary of Defense Mattis, was concerned about the U.S. base in Qatar.

 

This means that McMaster essentially supports allowing the Qatari government to use our own base—which protects them—to decide U.S. policies.

 

The UAE has recommended that we move the base. There are no indications that McMaster is advocating that we do that so we can exert more pressure Qatar in the future.

 

  1. The book endorsed by McMaster legitimizes Hamas

 

Aaron Klein, a senior Middle East reporter, read the book that McMaster endorsed as “excellent” and, shockingly, found that the author never characterizes Hamas as a terrorist group. Instead, the author refers to Hamas as an “Islamist political group” that is among Islamists “who do not fit into a neat category.”

 

“The question for Americans is whether Hamas is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group,” the author, Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, writes.

 

He’s as wrong as someone can possibly be wrong. Beside the fact that Hamas has been designated by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization for 10 years, there is no question that Hamas is a terrorist group. In fact, there isn’t much of a substantive difference between Hamas and ISIS.

 

Aboul-Enein’s argument is that the U.S. should only target “Militant Islamists” and not more generic Islamists. By questioning whether Hamas qualifies as Militant Islamist, Aboul-Enein is questioning whether the U.S. should target Hamas.

 

The book also moves the reader away from understanding that Islamists’ preaching of armed jihad rests upon a strong theological foundation. Based on Klein’s description, the author makes it sound as if Islamists are motivated by reasonable grievances against policies and then sit down and conjure up a convoluted way to describe their violent response as “jihad.”

 

If we don’t acknowledge the deep theological basis of the Islamists’ worldview, we will not be able to effectively respond to the ideology and its related narratives.

 

There is an important side note as well: Klein points out that the author of the book is the chair of Islamic Studies at National Defense University (which is funded by the Department of Defense) and a senior adviser and analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism. This means that these views are being taught to very important students.

 

  1. McMaster believes terrorism is caused by disenfranchisement and lack of education

 

In his endorsement of the book, McMaster said, “Terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause.”

 

Remember when the Obama Administration’s State Department spokeswoman was mocked by the left and the right for suggesting that ISIS needs to be countered by reducing unemployment and poverty?

 

That same view is held by our current national security adviser.

 

  1. Preserving the Iran deal

 

McMaster is in favor of keeping the nuclear deal with Iran. His position resulted in the U.S. certifying that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the agreement. By claiming that Iran has been obedient, it bolsters the regime’s credibility and makes America look worse if we leave the deal later.

 

Former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz was on a conference call with McMaster before it was certified and explained to McMaster how Iran is violating the deal. When Fleitz asked why the administration would certify Iranian compliance despite evidence of non-compliance, McMaster failed to give a direct answer.

 

  1. Failure to understand the Israeli-Palestinian theater of the war with Islamism

 

The ideological war against Islamism requires us to debunk Islamist propaganda against our allies.

 

It is now known that McMaster declined to defend our best ally in the Middle East when questioned about Israel’s conduct in its 2014 war with Hamas.

 

Israel’s extraordinary efforts to limit civilian casualties in the war have been well-documented. When McMaster was asked whether he would agree that the Israeli military fought ethically, he gave an incoherent answer and then admitted, “that’s kind of a non-answer, sorry, to your first question.”

 

McMaster tried to stop Trump from visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem and, when he realized he couldn’t win that argument, pressured Trump not to go with any Israeli official. McMaster twice refused to answer whether the Western Wall is part of Israel, saying, “That’s a policy decision.”

 

The Conservative Review reported that McMaster refers to Israel as an “illegitimate,” “occupying power,” according to three current and former officials from Trump’s inner circle.

 

Senior Middle East Annalyst [sic] Caroline Glick substantiates the accounts with her own sources who describe McMaster as “deeply hostile” to Israel.

 

According to these reports, McMaster has characterized Israeli security measures as “excuses” to oppress Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs. These sources also claim that he is not supportive of U.S. support for Israeli counter-terrorism efforts and shut down a joint initiative aimed at Hezbollah.

 

The initiative was led by Derek Harvey, who McMaster fired (more on that later).

 

McMaster is a big reason why there are increasing danger signs for Israel from parts of the Trump Administration. This has been recognized by the Zionist Organization of America, which is asking for McMaster’s reassignment.

 

9.Appointing Kris Bauman as top National Security Council adviser on Israel.

 

Kris Bauman was chosen in May as the top adviser on Israel for the National Security Council. Journalist Daniel Greenfield reviewed Bauman’s 2009 dissertation and found highly disturbing content.

 

As Clarion reported earlier this month, Bauman blamed Israel and the West for failing to see “Hamas’s signals of willingness to moderate” and turning Gaza “into an open-air prison.” He advocated a policy that includes “Hamas in a solution,” dismissing Hamas’ oft-stated pledge to destroy Israel and kill Jews until the end of time.

 

In his dissertation, Bauman cites The Israel Lobby, a book that purports to disclose how Israel secretly manipulates the U.S. institutions of power from behind-the-scenes. He says the “Israel Lobby” “is a force that must be reckoned with, but it is a force that can be reckoned with.”

 

Bauman clearly depicts Israel as the aggressor in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and, as Greenfield points out, equates Jewish settlers in the West Bank with Palestinian terrorists.

 

“It is true that one could make an analogous argument regarding Palestinian terrorism, but there is one major difference between the two. Israeli government control over settlement expansion is far greater than Palestinian Authority control over terrorism,” Bauman writes.

 

As to the failure of the “peace process,” he blames Israel as well as the West for its “overwhelmingly favored Israeli interests.” Prime Minister Netanyahu is blamed for “inciting Palestinian violence” and deliberately undermining the prospects for peace.

 

A consistent theme appears in Bauman’s thesis: Israel is the instigator of terrorism. To defeat terrorism, stop Israel. And now he is in a strong position in the National Security Council to try to make that happen.

 

  1. Insubordination and constant drama

 

McMaster goes beyond honestly expressing himself to the president and crosses into insubordination, undermining the president’s agenda and contributing to dysfunction.

 

A strong example of McMaster’s well-known temper and ego was published in May by a prominent author who recalled how McMaster “went a bit batshit” because of an article he wrote where 95% of the content celebrated McMaster’s remarkable success in Iraq.

 

The other five percent focused on his forces’ initial mistakes and “mediocre” performance before adapting to the situation. And that set McMaster off.  The author even quoted an expert who said McMaster’s success would become a “case study in classic counterinsurgency, the way it is supposed to be done.”

 

Even major supporters of McMaster who know him personally admit “he can be very intense.” The left-leaning Politico, which is more inclined to favor McMaster than his rivals, reports that his “temper is legendary” and he “frequently blows his top in high-level meetings.”

 

Politico described McMaster as an “increasingly volatile presence in the West Wing.” Three administration officials told the Daily Caller the same thing, with one describing the National Security Council as having a “poisonous environment.”

 

In addition to targeting Bannon and Gorka and anyone he sees as being in their camp, McMaster reportedly couldn’t even get along with Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who should be on his team. (The relationship is said to have improved, though.)

 

He also clashes with Secretary of Defense Mattis over military matters and Afghanistan. Mattis gave a dismissive response to these charges, however.

 

At his very first National Security Council meeting, McMaster immediately told those under him that President Trump is wrong to use the term “radical Islam” because the terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

 

Right away, he got to work building a coalition to wage internal battles.

 

When it came time for Trump’s Joint Address to Congress, McMaster fought tooth and nail to stop him from using the “radical Islam” terminology. He wrote and widely distributed throughout the government a memo criticizing the president.

 

Trump was very open that this would be his view. If McMaster couldn’t stand it, then he shouldn’t have accepted the appointment.

 

When President Trump and Chief Strategist Bannon asked McMaster for a list of holdovers from the Obama Administration that may be leaking inappropriate information to the press, he refused to cooperate and to fire them. He said hiring and firing was his prerogative and that most would be leaving anyway.

 

When President Trump said South Korea would have to help cover the cost of a missile defense system to defend them from North Korea, McMaster immediately told the South Koreans that Trump’s words weren’t actual policy. Trump was furious and screamed at him on the phone.

 

Trump is said to have confronted McMaster about the “general undermining of my policy.”

 

McMaster has worked hard to expand his fan club in the Trump Administration at the expense of those he disagrees with, particularly those closest to the president’s views.

 

The Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month, “A White House official said McMaster appears to be trying to clear out anyone from the NSC staff who is outspokenly pro-Trump and has been slow-rolling the president’s directives that he disagrees with.”

 

In his resignation letter, Dr. Gorka wrote to Trump, “Regrettably, outside of yourself, the individuals who most embodied and represented the policies that will ‘Make America Great Again,’ have been internally countered, systematically removed, or undermined in recent months.”

 

As these internal battles have been waged, a steady stream of derogatory leaks have appeared in the media. Bannon has been blamed for anti-McMaster coverage at Breitbart, but McMaster somehow isn’t blamed for the leaks favorable to his side that appeared in the mainstream media. The pro-McMaster leaks substantiate why top generals saw him as a “publicity hound” in the military who advanced because of his closeness to General Petraeus.

 

  1. Pushing out Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

 

On issues related to Islamism, Bannon was an important voice to have in the White House. He was a main proponent of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and of waging an ideological war on Islamism.

 

Bannon understood the need to promote Muslim reform versus McMaster’s promotion of “non-Militant” Islamists. Shortly before his resignation on August 18, Bannon met with Dr. Daniel Pipes and Gregg Roman of the Middle East Forum, one of the most effective anti-Islamist organizations and promoters of Muslim modernist reformers.

 

Bannon was McMaster’s top target. McMaster had forced out many officials that he felt were too close to Bannon, personally and politically, apparently attempting to monopolize power as much as possible. After resigning, Bannon said, “No administration in history has been so divided.”

 

Bannon disagreed with McMaster on the April 6 airstrike on a Syrian airbase and the new strategy for Afghanistan. Although there are serious merits to the airstrikes and the new strategy for Afghanistan, it is absolutely essential to have the views Bannon represents be a part of the decision-making process. A good teammate can disagree with a decision but still improve the option that is ultimately chosen.

 

  1. Pressuring Dr. Sebastian Gorka to resign

 

Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to the president and author of Defeating Jihadresigned reportedly due to pressure from McMaster and Chief of Staff Kelly.

 

Gorka and Bannon were the main proponents of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

 

Gorka is best known as the man who flattens the media like a human bulldozer. These viral TV segments earned the adoration of President Trump, who personally intervened to stop plans by his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to move Gorka out of the White House and to a federal agency.

 

Trump’s satisfaction with Gorka and his success in handling the media should be considered important assets for an administration that struggles with messaging and perception. His book shows he is focused on a long-term plan for victory over Islamism.

 

Unfortunately for him, Chief of Staff Kelly disagreed with Trump and was reportedly “displeased” with Gorka’s popular television segments and McMaster saw him as part of the Team Bannon that he sought to conquer.

 

Gorka was also probably seen as too much of a political liability, as he had become the victim of one of the most vicious and meritless smear campaigns in recent memory.

 

However, Gorka’s media appearances, input and the ridiculousness of his enemies made him a political asset.

 

  1. Sidelining K.T. McFarland

 

Shortly after McMaster took his post, Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland was transferred out. McMaster had the leading role in making it happen.

 

She became the ambassador to Singapore; not exactly a position where her national security experience is being used to its full potential. Among her viewpoints is supporting designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

 

  1. Firing Ezra Cohen-Watnick

 

McMaster wanted to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council, right from the start. Watnick was initially saved by Bannon and Kushner.

 

Before joining the government, Cohen-Watnick organized an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness” event on his campus. He understands the issue of Islamist extremism and is passionate about it.

 

Watnick joined the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2010, became an intelligence officer and left in January 2017 for his senior National Security Council spot. He is believed to have entered the Defense Clandestine Service in 2012 and went to the CIA’s training facility known as “The Farm” in Virginia. He obviously had a strong background.

 

He was brought into the NSC by former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and, therefore, was seen as an ally of the Bannon-Gorka team inside the administration.

 

We don’t know much about what Watnick advocated while in the National Security Council aside from expanding U.S. operations against Iranian-backed militias in Syria.

 

Watnick was accused of improperly sharing intelligence with Rep. Devin Nunes, but there is disagreement over whether he did anything wrong. However, we know McMaster wanted to get rid of him right from the beginning, so this was probably just a good opportunity for a power play.

 

  1. Trying to Hire Linda Weissgold

 

McMaster had already begun interviewing CIA official Linda Weissgold as Watnick’s replacement before Bannon and Kushner initially stopped him.

 

Under the Obama Administration, Weissgold was the director of the CIA’s Office of Terrorism Analysis. That means she was responsible for the false talking points about the terrorist attack in Benghazi in September 2012.

 

  1. Firing Retired Col. Derek Harvey

 

Last month, McMaster fired President Trump’s top Middle East adviser from the National Security Council. The reason, as explained by one senior White House official, is that McMaster “wants his own guy.”

 

Harvey had an exemplary record and was thought to have a good relationship with McMaster, going back to when they served together under General Petraeus. He was described as one of Petraeus’ “most trusted intelligence advisors in Iraq” during the remarkably successful surge that turned the situation around.

 

Harvey was fired because of policy differences and McMaster’s desire to win the internal power struggle and cement his group over the National Security Council. McMaster and Harvey disagreed on “nearly every” area, particularly when it came to radical Islam and Iran. Harvey advocated working more closely with Israel, Egyptian President Sisi and Saudi Arabia.

 

Harvey had also put together a proposal for how the Trump Administration could scrap the nuclear deal with Iran. McMaster “blasted” his performance on Iran policy but according to a senior official who spoke to the left-wing Daily Beast, Harvey “was stuck in a Catch-22 situation” because lower-level staff dragged their feet in helping him.

 

According to the Weekly Standard—a publication that is certainly not in the Bannon/Trump camp—McMaster fired him because he didn’t like how close Harvey was to Bannon. Another detailed account said McMaster was also irked by his closeness to Kushner.

 

The most complete story says that McMaster directly told Harvey not to get too close to Bannon and Kushner. Shortly before he was fired, McMaster saw him leaving Bannon’s office. The sources say Harvey actually didn’t talk to Bannon too much, but McMaster had asked for information about Trump’s foreign policy priorities and that necessitated a meeting with Bannon.

 

McMaster saw Harvey at Bannon’s office on a Friday. When Monday came around, McMaster’s executive officer, Ylli Bajraktari (a Pentagon official from the Obama Administration) reminded Harvey it is not a “good idea” to talk to Bannon. He was fired four days later.

 

One other report states that Defense Secretary Mattis complained to McMaster about Harvey. The more exhaustive account based on sources close to Harvey dispute elements of that account.

 

  1. Replacing Harvey with Michael Bell

 

McMaster replaced Harvey with Michael Bell, who was the National Security Council’s director for Persian Gulf affairs.

 

Not surprisingly, Bell is on record for harshly criticizing then-Deputy Assistant Dr. Sebastian Gorka to the Washington Post. Bell claimed that Gorka was too biased on Islam-related issues, stopping just a few steps shy of hitting him with the “Islamophobe” label.

 

Clearly, McMaster was picking a team to go to war with the White House. There’s no other way to interpret this decision.

 

  1. Ousting of Adam Lovinger

 

In May, National Security Counil [sic] analyst Adam Lovinger had his security clearance revoked for unclear reasons that Lovinger described as “puzzling and baseless.” He was then fired.

 

Lovinger was at the council on loan from the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment, where he had served as a strategic affairs analyst for 12 years. He was a known Trump supporter and was brought into the council by Flynn. Therefore, he would have been seen by McMaster as a Bannon ally.

 

Caroline Glick described Lovinger as a “seasoned strategic analyst” who clashed with McMaster because he favored India over Pakistan. He also opposed the nuclear deal with Iran and supported the use of terminology like “radical Islam.”

 

Lovinger confirmed that his conservative views on foreign policy had irked bureaucrats, and he believes his clearance was taken away for political reasons.

 

The Washington Free Beacon reported on May 1 that “security clearances granting access to state secrets have become increasingly politicized in a bid by opponents to block senior advisers to President Trump.”

 

Another example of this happening is Robin Townley, who held a top secret clearance and was picked by former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn as the council’s senior director for Africa. The CIA declined to grant him the necessary security clearance for Sensitive Compartmented Information. A source close to Townley said it was a politically-motivated “hit job.

 

  1. Ousting Tera Dahl

 

Tera Dahl, the National Security Council’s deputy chief of staff, transferred out of the council in June. She will likely be working at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

 

Dahl was a writer for Breitbart and therefore seen as belonging to Bannon’s camp. She also co-founded a foreign policy think tank with Katharine Gorka, wife of now-former Deputy Assistant Sebastian Gorka (Katharine Gorka is currently an official adviser to the Department of Homeland Security’s policy office.)

 

Dahl was especially interested in Egypt. She is supportive of Egyptian President el-Sisi, arguing that his actions are helping to transition the country towards democracy and stability. She visited Egypt and believes he is getting unfair treatment by some Western media outlets and think-tanks who want to demonize him and exonerate his Muslim Brotherhood enemies.

 

The left-wing Buzzfeed described the change as a result of warring factions inside the White House over foreign policy. It explained, “The move frees up National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to install another staffer of his choosing in his drive to reshape the NSC to his liking.”

 

Dahl is said to have expressed interest in transferring because she was close to National Security Council Chief of Staff Keith Kellogg, whose tensions with McMaster have “created an uncomfortable working environment at the NSC.”

 

The council’s spokesperson Michael Anton claims “it was always her intent to move into a policy role once this task [at NSC] was completed.”

 

  1. Firing Rich Higgins

 

McMaster and/or his deputy, Ricky Waddell, fired the NSC’s director of strategic planning, Rich Higgins, on July 21.

 

Higgins has an extensive background of national security service and has a deep understanding of the Islamist ideology, its associated doctrines and how it interacts with political movements that Islamists find common cause with.

 

Higgins had a deep understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood and how Islamists got political access and impacted policy under the Bush and Obama Administrations. He studied how political correctness had resulted in cleansing counter-terrorism training and national security policy documents from references to the ideological basis of the threat.

 

Higgins was pushing for the declassification of documents related to radical Islam and Iran and, more specifically, Presidential Study Directive 11. He had good reason to do so.

 

There were reports that the previous administration was not disclosing important documents, including ones from Bin Laden’s compounds that contradicted its narratives about the nature of the Al-Qaeda threat and the group’s relationship with Iran.

 

Presidential Study Directive 11 is reportedly an assessment of Islamist movements in 2010-2011 by the Obama Administration that resulted in a secret recommendation to align with “moderate” Islamists in handling the Arab Spring.

 

If this is indeed what happened, the directive’s declassification is of the utmost importance for understanding the Islamist threat, the fruits of this strategy and the dynamics of the region, not to mention historical documentation.

 

Alarmingly, according to a Gulf News report, the Presidential Study Directive 11 documents were obtained by the Al-Hewar Center in Washington, D.C. and show that the U.S. decided to back the “political Islamists” including the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Daniel Greenfield reported that the Al-Hawre Center is linked to a Muslim Brotherhood front named the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which has come under counter-terrorism investigation.

 

McMaster reportedly detonated” after coming across a seven-page memo that Higgins wrote which warned about a campaign by Islamists, Marxists, “bankers,” establishment Republicans and “globalists” to destroy the Trump presidency. The memo was given to Donald Trump Jr. and the president himself, who is said to have “gushed over it.”

 

Such a political memo would be inappropriate for the National Security Council. Its tone gives the impression of an author who sees all opposition to the Trump Administration as part of a seditious conspiracy. Its first reference is an interview between a member of the conspiratorial John Birch Society and a Soviet defector about “Jewish Marxist ideology.”

 

However, the memo was not intended for the NSC. It was a personal political analysis of how parties with various interests are trying to undermine the administration’s agenda.

 

According to Breitbart, Higgins used his personal computer to write the memo and did not use NSC time. He didn’t even use his NSC email to send it to anyone but himself. (He sent it from his personal email to his work email to print out.)

 

Another comprehensive Breitbart account says Higgins was fired on July 21 with several holdovers from the Obama Administration present and a Muslim woman with a hijab who worked as an equal employment officer. McMaster’s deputy, Ricky Waddell, told him it was his last day because “we’ve lost confidence in you.”

 

According to this account, McMaster was not responsible for the firing and hadn’t even read the memo. It was entirely the responsibility of Waddell. After the termination, parts of the memo were leaked to media outlets that would be most hostile to Higgins.

 

Regardless of whether Higgins’ firing was due to McMaster or Waddell, it was still done under McMaster’s leadership and was part of a broader push against perceived competitors.

President Trump was said to be “furious” at Higgins’ firing.

 

  1. CAIR Comes to McMaster’s Defense

 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a deceptive Islamist bulldog that tears into any opponent by falsely branding them as an Islamophobic bigot. The Justice Department identified the organization as a Muslim Brotherhood “entity” set up to support Hamas and designated it as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism-financing trial.

 

CAIR slaps the “Islamophobe” label on practically everyone, obviously including almost every member of the Trump Administration. It has done so to Muslim adversaries, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Democratic supporters of gun control measures to stop terrorists from obtaining firearms and White House Chief of Staff Kelly whose name was referenced in a letter thanking CAIR’s Florida branch.

 

But not McMaster.

 

When McMaster came under heavy criticism for his stances on Islamism-related issues, CAIR came to his defense. It branded his opponents as “Islamophobes” and “white supremacists.”

 

  1. Reports of a possible CAIR official on his staff

 

Ayaan Hirsi Ali from presenting a paper on Islamist extremism to the National Security Council. There are unconfirmed reports that it was one of McMaster’s appointees who blocked Hirsi Ali. One account of the incident says she was also blocked from seeing President Trump.

 

Hirsi Ali is one of the most prominent women’s rights activists and anti-Islamist voices in the world. She is executive producer of the Clarion Project’s Honor Diaries documentary about the oppression of women in the Muslim world. She is a strong advocate for secular-democratic Muslim reformers.

 

The person who is said to have blocked her is Mustafa Javed Ali, who protested that she is an “Islamophobe.” According to one of the reports, a source said that Mustafa said “that the only way she could present the paper would be to have someone from CAIR come in to refute her work.”

 

Mustafa Javed Ali is reportedly a former “diversity outreach coordinator” for CAIR. However, there is no public confirmation to confirm this as his name does not appear on CAIR’s website.

 

  1. Holdovers

 

An analysis by the Daily Caller found that about 40 of the 250 National Security Council officials are holdovers from the Obama Administration. Presumably, these officials would be very hostile to the Trump Administration’s agenda. They should be the first suspects in the ongoing stream of leaks from the NSC.

 

National security expert Jed Babbin identified four NSC officials who previously reported directly to Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the Obama Administration official who boasted of creating an “echo chamber” in the media to promote the nuclear deal with Iran using “compadres” in the media to influence reporters who “literally know nothing.”

 

(Rhodes also has the distinct honor of being the only person to be called an “asshole” in the headline of a Foreign Policy article.)

 

In July, McMaster told NSC staffers, “There’s no such thing as a holdover.” He was professing confidence that those who worked in the Obama Administration would loyally serve President Trump.

 

Likewise, NSC spokesperson Michael Anton defended the holdovers as “stalwarts.”

 

As mentioned before, when Trump and Bannon asked McMaster for a list of holdovers that may be leaking to the press, he refused to cooperate and to fire them. He said hiring and firing was his prerogative and that most would be leaving anyway.

 

One former NSC staffer told the Daily Caller that McMaster has “protected and coddled them.”

 

Iran expert and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ken Timmerman wrote a book titled Shadow Warriors in 2007 about how the Bush Administration was undermined by opponents within the governmental bureaucracies.

 

Timmerman’s observation should serve as a contemporary warning:

 

“George W. Bush never got the first rule of Washington: People are policy. He allowed his political enemies to run roughshod over his administration through a vast underground he never dismantled and never dominated.”

 

  1. McMaster was an 11-Year Member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies

 

Breitbart discovered that McMaster was a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies from September 2006 until February 2017 when he became national security adviser. IISS was part of a campaign to promote the nuclear deal with Iran and gets funding from Islamist allies.

 

Its website shows that one of its top donors is the Open Society Foundation, formerly named the Open Society Institute, whose founder and chairman is left-wing partisan activist George Soros. The foundation donated between 100,000 and 500,000 euros (roughly $120,000-$600,000) to the IISS.

 

The Open Society Foundation is motivated by hyper-partisanship and works hard to defend American Islamists and slander opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood as bigots.

 

For example, it financed the Fear Inc. reports about the “Islamophobia Network” that is a powerful weapon in the Islamists’ and Regressive Left’s arsenal for character assassination and protecting groups like CAIR.

 

These reports were used to justify the removal of Islamism from counter-terrorism training.

 

IISS also has Ploughshares Fund as a major donor, giving between 25,000 and 100,000 euros (about $30,000-$119,000). The Plougshares Fund is also funded by Soros and his entities like Open Society.

 

When Ben Rhodes boasted about orchestrating the “echo chamber” to promote the nuclear deal with Iran, he specifically mentioned Ploughshares as his example of an outside group he utilized.

 

The president of Ploughshares, Joseph Cirincione, is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Plougshares specifically listed IISS, the group that McMaster belonged to, as the recipient of a grant for work on Iran issues in 2016.

 

Soros’ Open Society Foundation/Institute donated about $70,000 overall to selling the Iran deal, but other entities funded by Soros gave more. Ploughshares donated at least $800,000.

 

Ploughshares also donated over $400,000 to the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), which has long been accused of being a lobby for the Iranian regime. Ploughshares also awarded $70,000 to Princeton University to sponsor the work of former Iranian regime official Seyed Hossein Mousavian. The Heritage Foundation’s James Phillips writes, “This essentially amounted to subsidizing Iran’s propaganda efforts inside the United States.”

 

As Breitbart’s Aaron Klein shows, IISS was a loyal contributor to the Rhodes-Plougshares “echochamber.” It supported the deal and defended Iran against accusations of violations. It cast doubt on concerns that Iran and North Korea work on WMD together. And it criticized Trump’s attitude towards Iran.

 

IISS also receives funding from many companies that profited from the Iran deal like ExxonMobil. Its list of donors includes many governments, both allies and adversaries of the U.S.

Governmental donors of concern include Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Brunei, Kuwait, Russia and China.

 

  1. President Trump is frequently unhappy with McMaster’s performance.

 

As mentioned before, President Trump has confronted McMaster about his “general undermining of my policy” and was furious at him for telling South Korea to basically ignore Trump’s words.

 

Trump complains that McMaster talks too much at meetings and has described him as a “pain.” There have been multiple articles indicating that Trump might be on the cusp of firing McMaster.

 

“I am at a pain to find an issue that H.R. actually aligns with the president, except for the desire to actually win and beat ISIS. That’s the only one,” said one administration official.

 

A former senior NSC official said, “I know that the president isn’t a big fan of what McMaster’s doing. I don’t understand why he’s allowing a guy who is subverting his foreign policy at every turn to remain in place.”

 

Trump has reportedly said in private that he regrets choosing McMaster as national security adviser and went so far as to meet with former U.N. ambassador John Bolton to float the possibility of him replacing McMaster. Bolton and Trump agreed that it was not the right move.

 

Conclusion

 

McMaster has put his life on the line for the country and ascended because of his impressive leadership during the worst days of the war in Iraq. He “basically was the first commander to get things right in Iraq.”

 

At the time, McMaster blasted the media for its downplaying of Iran’s role in murdering U.S. troops.

 

This led to many people’s (including this author’s) initial enthusiasm for him as national security adviser despite his statement in 2014 that the “Islamic State is not Islamic.”

 

Thinking it unfathomable that Trump would choose someone who is so fundamentally at odds with his national security vision, many chalked up the statement to a clumsy articulation of the U.S. position that ISIS shouldn’t be treated as the representative of the Muslim world.

 

But what was once unfathomable has become reality.

 

McMaster performed well as a military commander fighting an insurgency. If he is to continue serving the Trump Administration, then he should be reassigned to focus on taking his success in Iraq and repeating it in Afghanistan.

 

Also Read: 

 

Has Trump Kept His Word on Radical Islam?

 

The Nikki Haley Report Card

_______________

An Intro to … Reassign McMaster

Intro by John R. Houk

Intro © August 30, 2017

_____________

25 Reasons to Reassign General H.R. McMaster

 

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

 

The Clarion Project (formerly Clarion Fund) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to educating both policy makers and the public about the growing phenomenon of Islamic extremism. The Clarion Project is committed to working towards safeguarding human rights for all peoples.

 

Copyright 2017 Clarion Project Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

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