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

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EgyptAir Flight 804 likely a terrorist act

EgyptAir Flight 804 was confirmed missing late Wednesday night at around 11 p.m. American Central Time. Carrying 66 passengers, the flight from Paris, France to Cairo, Egypt disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea as it reached Egyptian airspace.

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From the information presented at this current time, we know EgyptianAir Flight 804 made a 90 degree turn to the left once entering Egyptian airspace. The plane then proceeded to drop 9,000 feet before it lost contact with air traffic control.

Now, most major news outlets are reporting the crash, but not enough light has been shed on some important information leading to the flight’s disappearance.

Within the last 24 hours, the EgyptAir Airbus A320, which is the same plane that disappeared late last night, made stops in Eritrea and Tunisia. Both of these countries have had documented security issues at their respected airports, which can hold some key answers in the disappearance of flight 804. Both of these countries also contain a heavy ISIS recruiting presence, especially Tunisia in particular.

Tunisia, a country located on the Northern region of Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea, has been plagued with ISIS recruiting problems since 2011. According to the Tunisian Interior Ministry, the country has lost 2,400 citizens to ISIS, 400 of those who have returned to the country. This process has created a a growing issue as returning fighters are recruiting more and more of its citizens to fight for ISIS in Syria.

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Tunisian protest in 2016. Photo credits: Zoubeir Souissi–IB Times

ISIS’ accessibility to young Tunisians across the country is easily accomplished as Tunisia has an unemployment rate of 20 percent, and around 240,000 university graduates are unemployed. The prison’s in Tunisia are at 139 percent capacity and the economic status of the country has been in decline after the Revolution in 2010. These factors all lead to easy recruitment methods for ISIS as instability in the country’s economic system allows for the corruption and manipulation of young recruits. Of the Arab states, Tunisia has the highest number of ISIS recruits per citizen.

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Photo from Twitter: @CNN

Although no hard evidence has been found as of now, it is hard to brush over the stops the plane made in the past 24 hours. In conclusion with this information, it is likely that a terrorist attack was in the works on this flight. Now, I don’t want to jump to hard conclusions, but the flight did depart from France, which has seen nasty terrorist attacks in the past year. In correlation with Europe’s current battle with radical Islam, I can’t help but feel the plane’s disappearance is linked with terrorism.