Administration At Odds Over Foreign Policy Direction

National security adviser H.R. McMaster listens during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, July 31, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A long-simmering dispute between two top White House aides has boiled into a public battle over the direction of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, with a cadre of conservative groups pushing for the ouster of national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

In recent days, conservative groups and a website tied to Trump adviser Steve Bannon have targeted McMaster as insufficiently supportive of Israel and insufficiently tough toward Iran. They’ve expressed outrage about the firings of several aides regarded as sympathetic to their views.

An online campaign , under the hashtag #FireMcMaster, prompted Trump to declare his support for his adviser. The dispute reflects the tensions at the heart of Trump’s foreign policy coalition. McMaster is one of several powerful generals in Trump’s orbit who hail from the Republican foreign policy establishment. But Trump is equally sympathetic to the views of firebrands like Bannon, who are trying to push the party in a new, isolationist direction embodied by his “America First” doctrine. McMaster and Bannon have clashed loudly and repeatedly during recent White House discussions over Afghanistan war strategy, according to four administration officials and outside advisers.