An Actual False-Flag Operation at CPAC

Meet the protesters who tricked conference attendees into waving Russian flags.

.. Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned “TRUMP” in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags.

.. “Most people didn’t realize it was a Russian flag, or they didn’t care,” Charter told me in a phone interview. He and Clayton had purchased tickets to CPAC for the day the president was scheduled to speak, and managed to disperse the flags with surprising ease among the crowd.

But the two wouldn’t call it a “false-flag” operation. “It’s true-flag operation,” Clayton told me over the phone, in a thick, mock Russian accent.

Blessed are the winners. Big league.

The Lord is my shepherd. Okay? Totally. Big league. He is a tremendous shepherd. The best. No comparison. I know more than most people about herding sheep. And that’s why I won the election in a landslide, and it’s why my company is doing very, very well. Because He said, “I’m with you, Donald. You will never want.”

Can McMaster Stabilize Trump’s Foreign Policy Team?

General McMaster is a compelling choice: a scholar-warrior in the mold of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, with the bonus of looking every inch the part — allegedly a critical asset in the image-conscious Trump administration.

Yet those very qualities could spell more trouble ahead. General McMaster’s deep understanding of civil-military relations, and his reputation for not suffering fools, could quickly make him an irrepressible critic — and political enemy — of Mr. Trump and his senior adviser, Stephen K. Bannon.

.. At the same time, General McMaster has a cooler head than Mr. Flynn, or for that matter John Bolton, whom he beat out for the job.

.. Perhaps the best indication of General McMaster’s thinking, and the likelihood of conflict with Mr. Bannon and others, is his 1997 book, “Dereliction of Duty,” a merciless, meticulous study of the early days of the Vietnam War, and how senior civilian officials and the Joint Chiefs of Staff led the country into a quagmire.

.. His central thesis is that the Joint Chiefs became inordinately politicized, caving to senior civilian officials in the Johnson administration like McGeorge Bundy, the national security adviser, who knew little about Vietnam, or military doctrine. Those officials were more concerned about appearing just strong enough not to lose hawkish domestic support without compromising the Great Society agenda than they were about actually winning the war.

.. “The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field nor was it lost on the front page of The New York Times or the college campuses,” he wrote. “It was lost in Washington,” even before “the first American units were deployed.”

.. Men like Mr. Bannon, of course, are not likely to be either silent or deferential. Instead, they will try to bureaucratically outflank dissenters.

.. General McMaster, for his part, vehemently objected to the way President Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara largely circumvented the Security Council’s interagency process in formulating and implementing Vietnam policy; it’s unlikely he’ll abide a similar move by Mr. Bannon and his circle. He’ll probably be joined by General Mattis

.. Expect fireworks. General McMaster’s unblinking, incisive criticism of national security officials reflects a conviction that they are duty bound to do all they can to avoid making or repeating historical mistakes — even at the risk of insubordination.

.. And Mr. Trump, given his rhetoric, appears willing to indulge the use of military force with little regard to strategic consequences.