mardi 8 août 2017

McMaster solidifies power at NSC — and supports Iran deal, sees Israel as occupier

McMaster solidifie le pouvoir chez NSC - et soutient l'accord de l'Iran qui voit "israël" comme occupant

Updated. Last night President Trump issued a statement affirming his support for National Security adviser H.R. McMaster in the face of a storm of criticism from rightwing outlets. The statement is a sign that Trump and his new chief of staff are taking the realist side of the debate inside his administration over foreign policy.

So while Trump claims to be doing everything he can to trash the Iran deal, the good news is that his foreign policy team is for it. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clearly advocated for the deal at a press briefing earlier this week, while suggesting that he could differ with the president on how effective it’s been.

I think there are a lot of alternative means with which we use the agreement to advance our policies and the relationship with Iran.

Tillerson is one of the “adults” who are thought to be able to rein in Trump’s worst tendencies on Iran, as Paul Pillar wrote:

Reportedly the adults, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, last month urged a resistant Trump to recognize reality and certify that Iran was complying with the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].

Further comfort comes from the fact that three days ago, General McMaster fired Ezra Cohen-Watnick, an enigmatic thirtyish intelligence aide who was vehemently opposed to the Iran deal, leading to calls to get rid of McMaster. Like Tillerson, McMaster is plainly a realist. And he is thought to have job security because his predecessor, General Mike Flynn, lasted barely three weeks and went out with a splash. The Atlantic says McMaster is cleaning house at the NSC; two weeks ago he got rid of an ideologue who spread anti-Muslim conspiracies.

Supporters of Israel are upset by the personnel changes. The Israeli-American hothead Caroline Glick writes at her Facebook page that McMaster is “deeply hostile” to Israel as an occupying power.

The Israel angle on McMaster’s purge of Trump loyalists from the National Security Council is that all of these people are pro-Israel and oppose the Iran nuclear deal, positions that Trump holds.

McMaster in contrast is deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump. According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews.

McMaster “has chosen to eliminate the pro-Israel voices at the National Security Council,” according to Jordan Schachtel at the Conservative Review, who cited interviews with White House officials who are trying to undermine the general:

McMaster not only shuns Israel, he is also historically challenged on Arab-Israeli affairs, according to the sources.

“McMaster constantly refers to the exi...

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