Donald Trump was very proud of “my generals.” Those would be Michael Flynn … resigned under fire. H. R. McMaster … resigned. John Kelly … resigned. And now, Jim Mattis … resigned in disgust.
Trump has tried to put down Mattis’ departure as just another spin of his rapidly revolving door.
Following Trump’s decision to hand Syria over to Russia—and Trump’s claim that giving Vladimir Putin free rein in the country that he values most was actually a kind of punishment—Secretary of Defense Mattis has headed for the door at high speed. But not without leaving some smoke in his wake.
As CNBC reports, Mattis’ resignation letter is a direct smack to the nose of Trump’s erratic policy decisions and the continuous stream of slights he directs toward vital U.S. allies.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.
What’s not in Mattis’ letter? Anything that could be read as a compliment to Trump. Not even an “it was an honor to serve under you.” Not even a closing “respectfully.”
Mattis also made it clear that Trump’s Russia-first policy did not match his idea of the proper actions of the U.S. government.
My views of treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.
In the letter Mattis does not call Trump a moron. But there’s “f$#$ing moron” written in between every line.
Mattis explicitly pushes back against Trump’s willingness to treat enemies better than friends, and his willingness to roll over to make Putin happy.
I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions—to promote their own interests as the expense of their neighbors, America, and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for our common defense.
Trump has always claimed he was smarter than the generals, even as he was bragging about his support for the military. But he may need another general to explain to him just how big an insult this general just delivered.