How political divisiveness threatens US foreign policy

President Donald Trump’s disagreements with then-national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster were extensively reported during McMaster's 13 months in the role until he was famously dismissed via Twitter. Two years later, McMaster discusses how political divisiveness is poisoning U.S. foreign policy. He will speak at ASU on Thursday, Oct. 7, as part of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership’s Civic Discourse Project. The event is free and open to the public.

“Our country is politically divided, and individuals are targeted with misinformation, bias and distrust for democratic institutions,” said McMaster. “This has a negative impact on our ability to lead international efforts to bring stabilization and peace to the world, and threatens the confidence necessary to implement an effective foreign policy.”

In his lecture, McMaster will highlight the importance of history and civic education to rebuild trust in the country’s democratic institutions and effectively implement U.S. foreign policy. The lecture starts at 5 p.m. in the Memorial Union's Arizona Ballroom on the Tempe campus. The Civic Discourse Project offers a thoughtful and broad assessment of what the challenges are to American civic life and its institutions — including the university. This year’s program focuses on “Renewing America’s Civic Compact.”

“Sectors of the American public show a low understanding of and trust in our democratic institutions,” said Paul Carrese, director of the school. “Our goal at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership is to foster an interdisciplinary and balanced environment for debating ideas that are critical to our democracy, and we strive to do this by hosting discussions with the country’s most prominent public service leaders, authors and scholars.”  

The Civic Discourse Project is co-sponsored by ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and supported by the Jack Miller Center. For more information and to register, visit

ASU Distinguished University Fellow McMaster is the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University. A native of Philadelphia, McMaster graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He served as an Army officer for 34 years and retired as a lieutenant general in 2018. He remained on active duty while serving as the 26th assistant to the president for national security affairs. He taught history at West Point and holds a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Marcia Paterman Brookey