H.R. McMaster once skewered an army colonel for suggesting Afghans were 'inherently more corrupt' than Americans, according to a new book

·2 min read
Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster speaking at the Center for a New American Security's annual conference in Washington, DC on June 28, 2017.
Former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
  • Gen. H.R. McMaster once blasted a US colonel for suggesting Afghans were more corrupt than Americans, a new book says.

  • "They are no more inherently corrupt than we are, and they are fighting and dying beside us every day," he said.

  • Rep. Adam Schiff wrote that he witnessed the exchange between McMaster and the colonel.

General H.R. McMaster once skewered a US colonel in Afghanistan after he suggested that Afghans were inherently more corrupt than Americans, according to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff's new book, "Midnight In Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could."

The exchange, which Schiff witnessed, took place during a trip to Kabul before Donald Trump became president. The California Democrats said he made the trip to oversee "rule-of-law issues" in Afghanistan, and that he was impressed with McMaster's commitment to the US' Afghan partners.

According to Schiff's book, he witnessed McMaster giving a dressing down to a US colonel for suggesting that Afghans were inherently corrupt.

"They are no more inherently corrupt than we are, and they are fighting and dying beside us every day, so you should show some respect," McMaster told the officer, the book said.

Schiff recounted the story in a passage detailing his disappointment when McMaster defended then White House advisor Jared Kushner's efforts to establish a secret backchannel of communication with Russia. News of Kushner's efforts sent shockwaves through the political and media ecosystem at the time, with national security veterans describing Kushner's actions as unprecedented and highly unusual.

McMaster defended Kushner, saying on cable news that the US had a long history of having backchannels with other countries. But Schiff called that assertion "preposterous," writing, "Yes, there are time when the United States government has used back-channel communications with nations like Cuba or Iran. But those back channels are designed to facilitate communication for our government, not to conceal information from our government, and for McMaster to suggest otherwise was more than disingenuous, it was dangerous."

McMaster was one of six national security advisors, including those in acting capacities, who served Trump. He took over the role in early 2017 following the resignation of Gen. Michael Flynn, who was forced to step down after it surfaced that he lied about his contacts with Russia's ambassador.

McMaster resigned in April 2018 amid a string of policy disagreements with Trump and an increasingly sour relationship with the president. He was followed by John Bolton, who also resigned and was succeded by Robert O'Brien. Before joining the Trump White House, McMaster had a long military career that included posts in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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