President Trump’s new national security adviser broke with his stated viewpoint on Islam almost immediately after being sworn-in, telling aides on Thursday saying “radical Islamic terrorism” isn’t helpful.
The New York Times reported Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster told the National Security Council that using the term “radical Islamic terrorism” is not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic.”
Trump chided President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s refusal to use the term during the presidential campaign and promised to use the label “radical Islamic terrorism” as much as possible. The argument against using the term is that calling terrorists Islamic justifies the belief that they are acting in accordance with their religion, instead of portraying them as outside agitators to Islam.
The comments made by McMaster, who is known to be independent, reflect a worldview more akin to Obama and President George W. Bush when it comes to Islam than Trump.
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“McMaster, like Obama, is someone who was in positions of leadership and thought the United States should not play into the jihadist propaganda that this is a religious war,” said William McCants, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
It’s unclear how much McMaster’s views will influence Trump himself.
The Times reported McMaster is not close to Trump and does not have the privilege of simply being able to walk into the Oval Office to speak with Trump. Advisers like Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, who hold more anti-Islamic views, are both close to Trump and have walk-in privileges.