H.R. McMaster Isn’t a Bigot, Making Him An Outlier on Trump’s National Security Team

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, has no history of openly associating with bigotry. In fact, McMaster has throughout his career emphasized the need to work constructively with foreign Muslim populations.

.. the dramatic divide among Trump’s top foreign policy advisers. On one side are career military personnel who understand that antagonizing Muslims is both offensive to American values and damaging to the country’s security. On the other side are inexperienced, radical ethno-nationalists who shrug off international norms and believe that peaceful coexistence with the world’s Muslims is unlikely and undesirable.

.. McMaster has been a vocal proponent of protecting civilians in war zones and avoiding the “clash of civilizations” approach favored by Trump and his top advisers.

.. McMaster said that the United States must partner with people in Muslim-majority countries to defeat groups like the Islamic State, describing them as “the people who are suffering the most” from terrorism. McMaster added that to win such conflicts,U.S. forces must understand the history and social dynamics of the countries it is fighting in, as well as have “empathy for the people among whom these wars are fought.”

.. McMaster has also criticized agenda-driven D.C. think tanks and foreign policy seemingly driven by the weapons industry. In a 2015 speech at the University of South Florida, McMaster said that “the military-industrial complex may represent a greater threat to us than at any time in history.”

.. Mattis assured reporters during his recent meeting with Iraqi political and military leaders that, Trump’s frequent comments to the contrary, the United States would not try to seize Iraq’s oil. “I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I’m sure that we will continue to do that in the future,” he said. “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.”

.. Mattis believed that treating Iraqis with respect was essential to American security. He investigated abuses of prisoners in Iraq and helped stop the use of torture at one prison where an Iraqi in U.S. detention had died after being beaten.

.. Mattis believes that Israel’s continued military occupation of the Palestinians threatens American security and could lead to an apartheid-style situation. Asked about conflict with Iran during a 2016 interview, he replied, “It would be bloody awful, it would be a catastrophe if we have to have another war in the Middle East like that.”

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon

.. He’s also a true believer in the idea that the United States cannot coexist with Islam.

.. “Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is a religion of submission. Islam means submission,”

.. in a documentary he once pitched titled “Islamic States of America.” In that film, he imagined a future United States where all the major institutions of society were ominously controlled by Muslims.

Sebastian Gorka reports to Bannon and has emerged as one of the chief White House ideologues pushing for the United States to take a more forceful stance on Islam.

.. He is also an associate of notorious anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney

Senior Adviser Stephen Miller belongs to a new generation of far-right activists who argue that Western civilization is under attack by uncontrolled immigration and the spread of radical Islam.

.. he put together events to promote a “Terrorism Awareness Project” aimed at exposing the threat of “Islamofascism” — a term created by far-right activist David Horowitz

.. “Gripped by complacency and the omnipresent force of political correctness, our nation has failed to educate our youth about the holy war being waged against us and what needs to be done to defeat the Jihadists that are waging this war,” Miller wrote

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was until recently a Republican congressman from Kansas partial to defending CIA officials who engaged in torture, calling them “patriots.”

.. He has also claimed that “Islamic leaders across America [are] potentially complicit” in terrorism because they supposedly don’t speak out against it, which is not true.

.. Pompeo tapped as his deputy director at the agency CIA staffer Gina Haspel, who ran a secret prison in Thailand as part of a network of “black sites” that enabled the agency to torture detainees.

Senior Adviser Jared Kushner

.. Trump recently put an end to the longstanding U.S. insistence on a two-state solution, reportedly keeping his own State Department in the dark on the decision until it was made. It was Kushner’s counsel — not that of senior U.S. diplomats or military staff — that was guiding him.

.. While U.S. policy has held for decades that settlements built deep into Palestinian territories are illegal, Kushner’s family has helped finance them. And he fired a staffer at the New York Observer, which he owned at the time, after the staffer began to write critically about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Trump Drops Push for Two-State Solution in Mideast

President and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hint at broader regional approach

“I believe that the issue of the settlements is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict,” the Israeli leader said. “I think it’s an issue that has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations.”

.. Mr. Netanyahu has officially advocated a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2009, but in practice he has approved increased settlement construction that the U.S. has said imperils that approach. He is under pressure from members of his right-wing coalition government to abandon support for a Palestinian state.

.. The Trump administration is discussing with Arab allies forming a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter Iran,

.. Mr. Trump said on Wednesday his distancing himself from the two-state approach gives the Israelis and Palestinians leeway to reach a deal.

.. “The alternatives to a two-state solution would mean that Israel would have to choose between its commitment to democracy and the solemn obligation to be a homeland for the Jewish people,” Mr. Engel said, an apparent reference to the challenge of integrating more than four million people in the Palestinian territories with Israel’s predominantly Jewish population of eight million

.. Democrats and Republicans have vowed in the past to move the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and a 1995 U.S. law requires the move. But since then, presidents from both parties have used a national-security waiver included in the law to avoid doing so.

President Trump, Will You Save the Jews?

Hopefully Israel’s Supreme Court will strike down the law, but, in the meantime, Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, did not mince words. He reportedly warned at a private meeting that Israel can’t just “apply and enforce its laws on territories that are not under its sovereignty. If it does so, it is a legal cacophony. It will cause Israel to be seen as an apartheid state, which it is not.” Seen as an apartheid state!

.. That debate will not be about which are the best borders to defend the state of Israel, said the Hebrew University philosopher Moshe Halbertal, “but whether the state is worth defending in moral terms.”

.. I don’t expect Israel to just up and leave the West Bank without a Palestinian partner for a secure peace, which Israel doesn’t now have. But legalizing this land grab by settlers deep in Palestinian areas is not an act of security — it will actually create security problems.

Trump May Turn to Arab Allies for Help With Israeli-Palestinian Relations

The emerging approach mirrors the thinking of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who will visit the United States next week, and would build on his de facto alignment with Sunni Muslim countries in trying to counter the rise of Shiite-led Iran.

.. The difference is that in the last eight years, Israel has grown closer to Sunni Arab nations because of their shared concern about Iranian hegemony in the region, opening the possibility that this newfound, if not always public, affiliation could change the dynamics.

.. “The logic of outside-in is that because the Palestinians are so weak and divided — and because there’s a new, tacit relationship between the Sunni Arabs and Israel — there’s the hope the Arabs would be prepared to do more,” said Dennis B. Ross

.. That is a departure from the countervailing assumption that if Israel first made peace with the Palestinians, it would lead to peace with the larger Arab world — the “inside-out” approach.

.. Jordan’s King Abdullah II seems to have played a particularly pivotal role. Concerned that an embassy move would anger the many Palestinians living in his country, the king rushed to Washington without an invitation

.. The king appealed to the administration’s fixation with the Islamic State, arguing that it should not alienate Arab allies who could help.

.. The statement was worded in a way that let different parties focus on different parts. The “may not be helpful” phrase was the first time Mr. Trump had warned against new housing in the West Bank.

But the “beyond their current borders” phrase suggested a return to George W. Bush’s policy of essentially acquiescing to additional construction within existing settlement blocs as long as Israel did not expand their geographical reach or build entirely new settlements.

.. undeterred, Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition pushed through Parliament a bill to retroactively authorize thousands of homes in the West Bank that even under Israeli law had been built illegally on Palestinian-owned land.

.. The challenge now is whether Mr. Trump can use this ambiguity to his benefit.