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Mattis Out

James Mattis official photo.jpg
Secretary of Defense James Mattis. By Monica King, United States Department of Defense – Public Domain

Mattis is out by February. Washington Post suggests it’s over differences with Trump, but as of yet we have very little detail. If Syria policy is the hill Mattis decided to die on it reflects poorly on Mattis, but as of yet we don’t know enough to say exactly what’s happening. It could be that Mattis was so frustrated with the Syria process, as opposed to Syria policy; working for Trump must be a nightmare for any competent professional. It could be frustration with the impending government shutdown, which will necessarily affect DoD. It could be that withdrawal from Afghanistan is next, and Mattis wants no part of that. Most ominously, it could be Korea related. Only the latter, in my view, has the potential to truly wreck US foreign policy priorities.

Stay tuned, obviously. The “grown ups” are all gone. No one affiliated with this administration escapes with their dignity alive.

…here’s the resignation letter. Key graph:

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors [ed note- he calls out Russia and China in previous paragraph] are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.

So liberal international order, communication with allies (which was definitely a problem with Trump’s snap decision on Syria) and confrontation with Russia (because no one could accuse Trump of not being confrontational with China)? Interesting stuff.

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