McMaster is a hopeful replacement for Flynn

 

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Michael Flynn before resignation. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo (EPA)

After Michael Flynn’s resignation, the nation eagerly waited on who Donald Trump would pick as the next National Security Advisor. And with much surprise, the new pick may be of some importance for the Trump administration. Army Lieutenant General H.R McMaster is a man whose experience in the armed forces has given him a different perspective on the “war on Islam”—rhetoric chief strategy advisor Steve Bannon so eagerly chooses to use.

For the new pick, there are two major takeaways that the American people should be aware of: McMaster’s experience and how that molds his potential world views, and his take on Russia-American relations.

Middle East:

McMaster’s experience in the Middle East during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Commander of the Army shape the way he views Islam as a whole. In 2005, in an attempt to retake the city of Tal Afar which bordered Iraq and Syria, McMaster had his troops dress in traditional Arab clothing to blend in to the environment. He also taught his soldiers how to walk into a home and determine if the residents were Sunni or Shiite Muslims. McMaster is also on record for commanding his troops not to refer to locals as “hajjis”, a racial slur used to identify Muslims who take pilgrim to Mecca, showing his respect to the people and culture.

This firsthand understanding, respect and strategy McMaster has displayed in his deployment shows the kind of mind he has: one that will not plague an entire religion for the fault of few, an issue a lot of members of Trump’s cabinet cannot seem to distinguish. Furthermore, McMaster does not have a political mind. He is military. And that experience gives this administration a head who can actually speak on behalf of terrorism from a personal level and one that isn’t convoluted by an unrealistic vision of the enemy we are fighting. McMaster understands and fundamentally believes that plaguing an entire religion on the faults of a few can actually be detrimental to foreign relations. McMaster is on record for stating that Trump’s rhetoric regarding “bombing Islam into oblivion” only fuels fire for terrorism. This rhetoric also further divides the American people from understanding the culture and religion of these people.

For the future on combatting terrorism, McMaster will act as the middle ground for a lot of key issues, socially and strategically.

Russia:

Unlike President Trump and Flynn, McMaster is a Russia skeptic, noting the country is not an ally of the United States but an adversary. Last May, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, McMaster cited Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine as evidence of a broader effort “to collapse the post-World War Two, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.” His skepticism on Russia is very outspoken, and reflective of a more “realism” world view of international relations. McMaster’s military experience probably has something to do with his cynical view of the world, and for the United States, this might be the best man for the job in an administration clouded with Russian influence.

Conclusion (opinion):

I actually like this pick by the Trump administration. McMaster is a man of integrity, respect, mutual understanding, and of course his military experience allows for a more realistic approach on how to combat Islamic terrorism (hopefully). I don’t know him personally, so although it is hard for me to speak on his personal traits, on the surface level, he seems to have a lot of credible ideas and philosophy. His respect and understanding of the culture abroad, to me, gives him a lot of credibility. More so, he knows HOW the Middle East operates—culturally and in terms of terrorism.

For Russia, I am on the boat that our Western neighbor deserves more punishment for their actions in Crimea. Naturally, my bias against Russia, which has been stated in previous posts, draws me to McMaster’s words and skepticism. I do not think Russia is an ally. Nor is the country’s involvement in our political system something that should go without notice or action in the future.

Everything I’ve read on McMaster has actually made me more relaxed about the administration’s inner-circle, as I hope he can be the voice against the ideology of President Trump and Stephen Bannon. Let us not forget how Bannon has stated that “every President needs his war.” This rhetoric is inherently dangerous considering the amount of turmoil in the international world, and I hope McMaster’s military experience will help level this thinking.

 

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McMaster and Trump. Photo: CNN

Whether McMaster becomes a puppet for Trump will come in time, but let us not forget Flynn was part of the inner-circle of decision making in the early weeks of administration. I just hope McMaster will also be part of that tight-knit group in order to help moderate some of the discussion happening inside the Oval Office.

I am hopeful, for once.

Best,

-Exsar Misael

Russia has too much influence in American politics

Russia has been in the headlines a lot recently, causing a lot of tension and confusion with the American people on what exactly is going on. Today, I hope to remedy some of those concerns or questions about Russia-American relations.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that members of Donald Trump’s campaign during the election had repeated phone calls with members of Russian intelligence officers. The article immediately grabbed national attention. According to the Times, phone records and intercepted calls by four current and former American officials released the information to the publication.

This all coming after U.S. intelligence agencies stated that Russia leaked democratic emails to sway the election in Trump’s favor. Sergei A. Ryabov, deputy Russian foreign minister, is on record stating that there were contacts between the two parties during the election.

These actions from the Trump campaign are in direct violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which I feel will come into question if more information about Russia’s involvement in U.S. politics continues.

Republican South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, a critic of Trump’s administration, said on Good Morning America “if it’s true, it is very, very disturbing to me. And Russia needs to pay a price when it comes to interfering in our democracy and other democracies, and any Trump person who was working with the Russians in an unacceptable way also needs to pay a price.”

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So, as the American people, where should you have a problem with these interferences in our democracy (if they are true)? The answer lies in the hypocrisy of the administration in power.

On March 18, 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, a region that belonged to the Ukraine. To Trump’s backing, I do agree that President Obama was extremely weak regarding the annexation of the territory. The act was a violation of international law under the Agreement on Establishing the Commonwealth of Independent Nations in 1991, and should have been dealt with in such manner. Sanctions should have been the least form of punishment for the Russian’s actions. Vladimir Putin was a former KGB (Soviet Union committee for state security) officer for 16 years and is on the record for stating he wants to move Russia in a more Soviet-esque state.

The Russian President, quite frankly, is embarrassed. And who could you blame him? His great country was stripped of their world dominance when the Soviet Union collapsed, allowing the United States to take control of global influence. The annexation of Crimea is the first step of what may come in the future. Russia seeks power and dominance, and as an American, that makes me fearful. The ideals of the Soviet Union that are still embedded in the mind of Putin is not what the world needs in terms of political ideology.

President Trump was rightfully a critic of the Obama administrations handling of the Crimea region, but ironically, his campaign is being accused of having close administrative discussion during the election. All of which came after several intelligence agencies stated Russia was responsible for leaked democratic emails during the election.

Senator Graham is rightfully critical. It is disheartening to even try and comprehend that the current President is in talks with Russia after the annexation of Crimea. We are not friends with Russia. Our governments are different in so many ways and historically represent different ideology.

What makes the situation a little stickier is Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor after he had discussion with the Russian ambassador on sanctions before Trump even took office.  Flynn, who resigned Monday, was misleading the Vice-President on his discussion with the ambassador. This becomes problematic as even people within the president’s inner-circle are hiding and misleading information about Russian politicians.

Regardless of your political ideology, Russia is way too involved in our political system, and they are getting away with it. I am all for improving relations with Russia, but the country should respect those boundaries set by the international community. They are making the United States look weak, and for reasons we can’t explain, Trump and his administration are at the forefront of the controversy.

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Trump-Putin phone call in the Oval Office. Flynn (right) before his resignation.

Sanctions should be set in place by this administration after Russia’s actions during the election. Interfering in our politics, regardless of who was at service, needs to be punished. It makes our nation look weak at the hand of Russian influence. China in the South China Sea, and now Russia’s interference will make for great foreign policy discussions in the near future. I am eager to see what new information is released on these matters.

Let me know what you all think! Hope you enjoyed the read.

Best,

Exsar Misael