Lt. General H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army, ret., the former National Security Advisor under President Trump examines some of the critical foreign policy and national security challenges that face the United States and offers ideas on foreign policy.
McMaster writes of his White House time with surprising detachment ... But he does have strong feelings about issues most people would consider profoundly political, such as the role the U.S. plays in the world ... While he may be uninterested in being juicy, this author is intent on being meaty. So readers should approach this work as a chance to earn several mini-McMaster's degrees. The general leaves little or no doubt as to his own hard-power thinking and attitudes ... an evenhanded assessment ... On the other hand, actually reading the text will reveal plenty that the president would take amiss.
Without question, Battlegrounds emanates from noble sentiments. The former national security advisor is concerned for our nation’s future and takes readers on a global tour evaluating the threats from Russian disinformation campaigns to Chinese authoritarianism and Iranian efforts to become a nuclear power. The world is a dangerous place, yet in McMaster’s view, self-satisfied American policymakers have placed the nation at risk because they somehow 'forgot that they had to compete.' ... In Battlegrounds, the potency of current threats facing America are real and the solution clear-cut: we need to shed our 'strategic narcissism' — the preoccupation with defining the world only in relation to US interests — and confidently project American power abroad.
He is clearly not a man who suffers fools gladly and Battlegrounds, his assessment of the US’s strategic imperatives, does not shy away from exposing the many weaknesses in the country’s foreign policy ... Like all commanders who have spent time in conflict—he commanded the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2005—McMaster draws too heavily, I suspect, on his own experiences on the ground in making some of his judgments. He thinks his success as a battalion commander in bringing communities together in one area of Iraq could have been repeated on a national scale. Yet a limited tactical success could never have worked more widely when the national strategy was so deeply flawed. The most striking chapters are on Iran ... Battlegrounds carries an important alert for the West.