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Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis may not have mentioned President Trump directly, but there was no doubt who his critical words were aimed at in a just published essay.
In an op-ed released Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Mattis broke his silence since leaving the White House, warning about the divisiveness in the administration and that the U.S. is “at increasing risk in the world” because of its relationship with allies.
“Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither. Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy,” the retired Marine Corps general wrote in an essay that was adapted from his forthcoming book, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.”
“At this time, we can see storm clouds gathering,” he 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,” Mattis wrote. “Returning to a strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can make common cause with, we can better deal with this imperfect world we occupy together. Absent this, we will occupy an increasingly lonely position, one that puts us at increasing risk in the world.”
Mattis announced his plans to resign in late December, following a clash with Trump over his decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. The president’s first defense secretary intended to leave his post in February but Trump announced he would exit on Jan. 1, 2019.
“When my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated, it was time to resign, despite the limitless joy I felt serving alongside our troops in defense of our Constitution,” Mattis wrote in the essay.
“I did as well as I could for as long as I could,” he added.
Trump described Mattis as “sort of a Democrat” last October but told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that he had a “very good relationship” with him. He also tweeted that he gave Mattis a “second chance” after “Obama ingloriously fired” him.
When President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should. Interesting relationship-but I also gave all of the resources that he never really had. Allies are very important-but not when they take advantage of U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
In his essay, Mattis referred to American alliances as well, noting the importance of “keeping faith with our allies.”
“Having fought many times in coalitions, I believe that we need every ally we can bring to the fight. From imaginative military solutions to their country’s vote in the U.N., the more allies the better. I have never been on a crowded battlefield, and there is always room for those who want to be there alongside us,” he wrote.
The 68-year-old expressed his worries about another area, writing that his greatest unease is “not our external adversaries; it is our internal divisiveness.”
“We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding solutions,” he wrote. “All Americans need to recognize that our democracy is an experiment—and one that can be reversed. We all know that we’re better than our current politics.”
“Tribalism must not be allowed to destroy our experiment,” Mattis added.
Many Twitter users reacted to the retired general’s words as just another ploy to sell more books.
“How do I promote my book? I know. I will look contrite and impotent. The left will love it and buy. The right will be curious to find out which adults may be left in the room. A total best seller.”
— Vetsquare (@GGC49710632) August 28, 2019
Lol just another liberal hit piece from a failed general going into politics who should of stayed in the military
— Mike Williams (@hoosiersindy31) August 28, 2019
It is about selling books – well trodden path since the 80s. As #POTUS expressed succinctly #Mattis did nothing for him or the country while in the administration. Just watch #MSM go into hyper-drive with his current pitch. His prior service is impeccable, of course. https://t.co/84zPJUGbjV
— Matha Goram (@baqwas) August 28, 2019
LOL I kept reading but he had nothing to say apart from describing how awesome he is. And look at what he did with all his super Marine capabilities. This is darkly funny
— Tero Kuittinen (@teroterotero) August 28, 2019
It’s a PR piece.
— Leigh Crosby (@teaandmagnolias) August 28, 2019
His book’s coming out, gotta push that paper
— Nathan L (@njl) August 28, 2019
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