Try as he might, Jim Mattis can’t seem to hide his real feelings about Donald Trump – that the president is leading the world’s most powerful nation down a dangerously wrong path. Mattis, the retired Marine general who resigned as defense secretary last December in a military policy dispute with Trump, says he owes the nation public silence while his former boss remains in office. Yet the comments Mattis is making as he promotes his new book suggest a strong, if implicit, message: Trump’s leadership is diminishing America. From the day he accepted Trump’s offer to lead the Pentagon, Mattis knew his views didn’t align entirely with those of the president-elect, particularly on what Mattis considers a central pillar of American global power and influence: respect for allies. Trump often denigrates allies, calling them ingrates and freeloaders. Mattis, who spent more than four decades in the Marines, is a former NATO supreme allied commander. Strengthening alliances was No. 2 on his list of strategic priorities as defense secretary, behind only his push to restore what he saw as America’s eroding military edge. Nations with allies prosper, Mattis likes to say, while those without them wither. Trump prefers to largely go it alone, America first. During his two-year tenure at the Pentagon, Mattis was consistently circumspect. He shied from news cameras, concerned that any utterance could offend his boss or amplify the daylight between the two men on any number of issues. To preserve his influence, he felt he must hold
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is warning that bitter political divisions threaten American society, saying he views “tribalism” as a greater risk to the nation’s future than foreign adversaries. The retired Marine general, who resigned in December 2018 in a policy dispute with President Donald Trump, said he worries about the state of American politics and the administration’s treatment of allies. “We all know that we’re better than our current politics,” Mattis wrote in an essay adapted from his new book and published Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal. “Unlike in the past, where we were unified and drew in allies, currently our own commons seems to be breaking apart.” Mattis said the problem is made worse by this administration’s disregard for the enduring value of allies, which he alluded to in the resignation letter he gave Trump on Dec. 20. “Nations with allies thrive,” he wrote in the Journal essay, “and those without them wither. Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy. At this time, we can see storm clouds gathering.” In an apparent reference to Trump, Mattis added: “A polemicist’s role is not sufficient for a leader. A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed.” Jim Mattis is breaking months of public silence as he promotes his new book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead,” which is scheduled to be published Sept. 3. He is to discuss the book in an appearance next Tuesday
When he resigned as defense secretary last December, Jim Mattis thought it might take two months to install a successor. That seemed terribly long at the time. Seven months later, the U.S. still has no confirmed defense chief even with the nation facing potential armed conflict with Iran. That’s the longest such stretch in Pentagon history. There is also no confirmed deputy defense secretary, and other significant senior civilian and military Pentagon positions are in limbo, more than at any recent time. The causes are varied, but this leadership vacuum has nonetheless begun to make members of Congress and others uneasy, creating a sense that something is amiss in a critical arm of the government at a time of global uncertainty. William Cohen, a former Republican senator who served as defense secretary during President Bill Clinton’s second term, says U.S. allies — “and even our foes” — expect more stability than this within the U.S. defense establishment. “It is needlessly disruptive to have a leadership vacuum for so long at the Department of Defense as the department prepares for its third acting secretary in less than a year,” Cohen told The Associated Press. He said he worries about the cumulative effect of moving from one acting secretary to another while other key positions lack permanent officials. “There will inevitably be increasing uncertainty regarding which officials have which authority, which undermines the very principle of civilian control of the military,” Cohen said. “In addition, other countries — both allies and adversaries
Pentagon chief Jim Mattis told Arab leaders on Saturday that Russia is no replacement for the United States in the Middle East following Moscow’s military intervention in Syria.
“Russia’s presence in the region cannot replace the longstanding, enduring, and transparent US commitment to the Middle East,” Mattis told a meeting in the Bahraini capital Manama.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Norman Mattis: “We are in close collaboration with our European allies… and we will continue to collaborate very closely with the treaty and its implications for European security. Eventually we have to look reality in the eye, that is not to mean that we are walking away from arms control. But arms control must be more than words on a paper, it must be actions.”
U.S. President Donald Trump must recognize that getting his way across the subcontinent could bring down a fragile edifice, one that has been propped up by delicate presidential balancing acts since the days of the Truman administration. The problem, of course, is that Trump’s clear tilt toward India will hardly halt Pakistan’s continued drift toward neighboring China and Russia.