In June, a host of prominent military officers voiced their opposition to President Trump’s threat to order U.S. soldiers to confront anti-racism protesters. Jim Mattis pronounced Trump, whom he had served as defense secretary, a threat to the Constitution. Joining Mattis were generals and admirals notable from the endless post-9/11 wars: Tony Thomas, John Allen, Mike Mullen, several others. Notably absent was H.R. McMaster, the retired Army three-star general who spent an uncomfortable year as Trump’s national security adviser.
At the time, a disappointed former McMaster aide speculated to The Daily Beast that McMaster might be holding his fire for a forthcoming book. But that book, Battlegrounds, continues McMaster’s silence on Trump’s fitness for office. “This is not the book that most people wanted me to write” is its first sentence, aptly matching the disappointment that McMaster’s White House tenure inspired even among his friends.
It’s not just that McMaster’s disinterested in a tell-all. Battlegrounds, obtained early by The Daily Beast, is disinterested in shedding any significant light on the Trump administration. Readers will learn more about what McMaster said to former Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar Abadi or South Korean Ambassador Chung Eui-yong than any conversation he had with the president. McMaster wants instead to deliver a lecture about American strategy, primarily concerning Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. And there McMaster’s evasions are significant.