Gen Mattis says he hopes ‘America first’ foreign policy will be eliminated going forward


Former Defense Secretary James Mattis denounced President Donald Trump’s national security policies and said he looks forward to a Biden administration abandoning the “America first” strategy.

Mattis exposed his bitterness in an opinion piece published Monday, urging a possibly incoming Joe Biden to  “eliminate” Trump’s foreign policy in favor of a more “cooperative” approach. The president slammed his former Secretary of Defense, who stepped down in December 2018, in a tweet noting that the op-ed “says it all” about him.

“In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades,” Mattis and others wrote.

The piece for Foreign Affairs magazine titled, “Defense in Depth,” was co-authored by Mattis, Hoover Institution fellow Joe Felter, Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Jim Ellis who is also a Hoover Institute fellow.

(DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

“The best strategy for ensuring safety and prosperity is to buttress American military strength with enhanced civilian tools and a restored network of solid alliances – both necessary to achieving defense in depth,” Mattis and the other authors wrote.

Those who favored this approach in the Trump administration wrote, they “seem to believe that other countries will have no choice but to accede to the United States’ wishes and cooperate on its terms.”

“This is delusion,” the piece continued.

“Sovereign countries always have choices: to compromise with aggressors, take actions opposed to U.S. interests, opt out of assistance when the United States needs it, or cooperate with one another on activities from which the United States is excluded,” they wrote, adding that “assuming otherwise has the result of emboldening adversaries and encouraging tests of the strength of U.S. commitments.”

Trump blasted the “world’s most overrated general” in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Not even the United States is strong enough to protect itself on its own,” Mattis and his co-authors said.

“Cooperating with like-minded nations to sustain an international order of mutual security and prosperity is a cost-effective way of securing that help,” they wrote, adding that “to dismiss U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere as ‘endless’ or ‘forever’ wars – as both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden do – rather than as support to friendly governments struggling to exert control over their own territory misses the point.”

“It is in the United States’ interests to build the capacity of such governments to deal with the threats that concern Americans; that work isn’t quick or linear, but it is an investment in both greater security and stronger relationships and preferable to the United States’ indefinitely having to take care of threats on its own,” the retired Marine general and others wrote.

They also claimed that allies “supplement” U.S. “military strength” and argued that only “aggressive and revisionist China” poses a threat to the nation today and “could potentially undermine the American way of life.”

“The United States’ goal, however, should not only be to deter great-power war but to seek great-power peace and cooperation in advancing shared interests,” they wrote.

“For that, the United States’ alliances and partnerships are especially crucial,” they added, making the claim that “not even the United States is strong enough to protect itself on its own.”

Earlier this month, Trump announced that he would be drawing down American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq by January, just ahead of the inauguration.

Twitter users slammed Mattis for his criticisms and what many called out as an “America second” proposal.

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Frieda Powers

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