The selection of the multitalented and independent thinker Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster as national-security adviser is inspired and reifies Trump’s past statements that he likes outspoken and independent advisers. McMaster is best known for his counterinsurgency work in Iraq, but prior to that, he wrote a principled critique of Vietnam-era top brass, and he was the epitome of traditional Army conventional excellence, especially in armor, as evidenced by the victory at the Battle of 73 Easting in the first Gulf War.
He is also a pragmatist experienced in the interworkings of the media, politics, and the military, and he won’t be surprised by the many fault lines in the Trump administration. Along with Mattis and Kelly, McMaster reflects well on Trump’s Jacksonian and deterrent instincts. These picks also reveal Trump’s assumption that independent and frank minds will more likely enhance his judgment and reputation by their possible occasional differences with him than they would undermine him by either obsequiousness or media-driven, opportunistic criticism.
The world is a mess, but some of America’s most talented are now in critical positions to protect and strengthen the United States.