Judging by his previous statements -- for example, during a speech in honor of Israel Independence Day at the Israeli Embassy in Washington in May -- McMaster considers one aspect of this opportunity to be a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This is where his approach is misguided, if not totally counter-productive.
In the first place, the Arab states have never been America's allies in the way that Israel has been. Israel and the U.S. not only share a Western value system, but the Jewish state is a technological, economic and military democratic power in an unstable Middle East ruled by dictatorships. Speaking about them in the same breath not only indicates a lack of understanding of the region, but necessarily hinders any attempt on the part of the U.S. administration to revive long-stalled negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, let alone achieve a peace deal.
If McMaster were merely exhibiting a misunderstanding of how things work in the Middle East, it would be bad enough. Yet this is not the greatest problem with his attitude towards Israel and the Palestinians. More serious is his anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian bias, as an article in the Conservative Report, based on comments by senior West Wing and defense officials, reveals.
According to the piece, "McMaster has emerged as a man fiercely opposed to strengthening the U.S. alliance with the Jewish state" -- one who "constantly refers to the [historically false] existence of a Palestinian state before 1947," and "who describes Israel as an 'illegitimate,' 'occupying power.'"
More recently, as a source told the Conservative Report, after the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017 -- committed by three Arab Israelis against two Druze Israeli Border Police officers -- McMaster called Israel's placement of metal detectors at the site "just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs."
This is in keeping with McMaster's ideology in general. During his first "all hands" staff meeting on February 23, 2017, he called terrorism "un-Islamic" and the term "radical Islamic terrorism" not helpful.
Prior to the meeting, retired U.S. Army Col. Peter Mansoor told Fox News that McMaster, with whom he served in Iraq during the 2007 surge of American troops, "absolutely does not view Islam as the enemy... and will present a degree of pushback against the theories being propounded in the White House that this is a clash of civilizations and needs to be treated as such."
Any attack against Guam would be considered an existential threat to Japan, the defense minister said, also citing a mutual defense agreement with the United States.
Japan lies only about 620 miles to the east of North Korea, which has conducted numerous missile tests this year. Most of the weapons have landed in the Sea of Japan, which lies between Japan and the eastern coast of the massive Asian continent.
Guam lies about 1,600 miles south of Japan.
Onodera’s comments reflected what observers have viewed as Japan’s growing interest in reviving its military and taking a more aggressive stance in the affairs of the Asia-Pacific region than it has since the end of World War II.
Previously, Japan has said it would shoot down North Korean missiles only if they were directed toward Japan. But last year, Japan enacted a new defense policy, allowing its military to defend U.S. territories and other allies against attack.