Signaling a U-turn toward Iran, President-elect Donald Trump Friday brought a scholar onto his team who wants to stir up discontent in Iran, and who says she is joining a team of “grownups” on national security issues.
The Trump transition team said Kathleen Troia “K.T.” McFarland would become his deputy national security adviser working with Gen. Michael Flynn, who Trump tapped as his chief national security adviser last week.
“Nobody has called foreign policy right more than President-elect Trump, and he gets no credit for it,” McFarland was quoted as saying in the transition team statement.
McFarland held national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, and has worked closely with Republican security mavens Henry Kissinger and Caspar Weinberger. She ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat from New York in 2006.
She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and studied national security in a doctorate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but never wrote her dissertation.
McFarland, who was a paid security analyst for Fox News until the network terminated her contract when her appointment was announced, has offered full-throated support for Trump, disdaining foreign policy decisions that do not focus almost exclusively on U.S. interests.
“Grownups back in charge of national security,” McFarland tweeted earlier this week before the announcement of her appointment.
Like Trump, McFarland is highly critical of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in which the United States and five other countries agreed to remove sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear weapons program.
“We gave them everything up front – the money, the sanctions, the path to nuclear weapons – and we demanded nothing in return,” McFarland said on Fox News Nov. 14.
She noted that 75 percent of Iran’s population is under the age of 35 and suggested that younger Iranians have unmet aspirations and a hunger for information that is thwarted by internet censorship.
“We can tear down that cyber wall any time we want, and then you can deal with your own population,” McFarland said of Iran’s rulers. “They have promised their people an awful lot, and if they can’t deliver, they’ll have domestic security problems.”
McFarland dismissed suggestions that Trump should look at global interests, rather than U.S. interests, in making policy decisions.
“Too many times in the last eight years, or even more, we’ve always thought, ‘What’s better for the global community?’ ” McFarland said, adding that the prevailing question should be, “What’s better for America?” She dismissed the notion that Trump would have to figure out how U.S. decisions may impact foreign leaders.
Rather, she said, “They have to figure out how to get along with him.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the termination of her Fox News contract after her appointment was announced. The termination was consistent with Fox News policy for commentators who move to government positions.