National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, a favorite of the D.C. foreign policy establishment and one of the White House’s few top advisers left who could potentially stop Donald Trump from starting a war with Iran, is apparently a dead man walking.
The Washington Post reports that while McMaster hasn’t been officially fired yet, Trump has already decided he’s gone and is looking at potential replacements:
President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements, according to five people with knowledge of the plans, preparing to deliver yet another jolt to the senior ranks of his administration.
Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up, these people said.
McMaster’s ouster would follow that of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. It’s been reported that both the outgoing State Department leader and McMaster were in favor of keeping the Iran deal in place. Trump’s nominee to replace Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, compared the Iranian government to ISIS last October.
The Post reports that the candidates to replace McMaster include former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who penned a New York Times op-ed in 2015 arguing for a pre-emptive strike against Iran, and an op-ed last year begging Trump not to keep the Iran deal in place. Another potential replacement named is Keith Kellogg, the National Security Council’s chief of staff who played an integral role in the disaster that was the reconstruction of Iraq, and then proceeded to spend over a decade as an executive for various sketchy military contractors.
The reasons the Post says that Trump likes both Bolton and Kellogg for the role are quintessentially Trump, which is to say that they are extremely fucking dumb:
Kellogg travels with Trump on many domestic trips, in part because the president likes his company and thinks he is fun. Bolton has met with Trump several times and often agrees with the president’s instincts. Trump also thinks Bolton, who regularly praises the president on Fox News Channel, is good on television.
Yesterday, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reported that Trump allegedly told Bolton during a meeting last week that the White House needs him, and expressed dismay that McMaster was in contact with Susan Rice, one of his predecessors in the Obama administration:
According to a person who spoke with Bolton after the meeting, Bolton recalled that Trump said he wanted him to join the administration: “We need you in here, John.” Bolton responded that there were only two jobs he’d consider: secretary of state and national security adviser. Trump said, “O.K, I’ll call you really soon.” Sources added that Trump spent much of the time with Bolton fuming that McMaster was speaking privately with Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice. “Trump kept saying, ‘Can you believe it? To Susan Rice? Can you believe it?’”
Back in December, Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley gave a poorly received presentation claiming Iran had violated UN restrictions by supplying Yemeni rebels with missiles because it had the logo of an Iranian company; the UN Secretary General’s report noted that the missile also contained an American component as well, according to Foreign Policy. Iran responded to Haley’s presentation by comparing it to Colin Powell’s infamous speech accusing Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction.
With McMaster and Tillerson gone and likely replaced by more hawkish voices in Trump’s ear, we’re pushing even further and further toward a war with Iran. And even moreso than our failed excursions in Iraq and Afghanistan, this would be a very bad idea.
We’ve sent a request for comment to the White House, and will update when and if we hear back.
Update, 1:00 AM ET, 03/18/2018:
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (sort-of?) disputed the report in a tweet, although the Post didn’t say the change had already been made: