Madcap militarism: H.R. McMaster’s dishonest attack on restraint

H.R. McMaster looks to be one of those old soldiers with an aversion to following Douglas MacArthur’s advice to “just fade away.”

The retired army three-star general who served an abbreviated term as national security adviser has a memoir due out in September. Perhaps in anticipation of its publication, he has now contributed a big think-piece to the new issue of Foreign Affairs. The essay is unlikely to help sell the book.

The purpose of McMaster’s essay is to discredit “retrenchers”—that’s his term for anyone advocating restraint as an alternative to the madcap militarism that has characterized U.S. policy in recent decades. Substituting retrenchment for restraint is a bit like referring to conservatives as fascists or liberals as pinks: It reveals a preference for labeling rather than serious engagement. In short, it’s a not very subtle smear, as indeed is the phrase madcap militarism. But, hey, I’m only playing by his rules.

Yet if not madcap militarism, what term or phrase accurately describes post-9/11 U.S. policy? McMaster never says. It’s among the many matters that he passes over in silence. As a result, his essay amounts to little more than a dodge, carefully designed to ignore the void between what assertive “American global leadership” was supposed to accomplish back when we fancied ourselves the sole superpower and what actually ensued.

Read the full article in The American Conservative.

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