This week, the Trump administration’s penchant for spitting out its senior staffers continued with the revelation that Defense Secretary James Mattis would be leaving his post at the end of February. Before he leaves, though, he’s continuing to make his mark to the point of reportedly having had his aides print and distribute some 5o copies of his resignation letter around the Pentagon.
As you might have guessed if unaware, the letter doesn’t exactly have kind words for President Donald Trump. Mattis delineated his own clear views on maintaining order on the world stage — in other words, the exact opposite of what Trump pushes for.
Just this week, he abruptly announced American troops would be withdrawing from Syria despite the fact that the Islamic State terror group they were there to fight in the first place is hardly “defeated.” Reportedly, he didn’t even make the decision in concert with U.S. allies or even his own national security team, and that was one of the last straws for Mattis, who met with the president to try and change his mind on Thursday.
The same day, Trump tweeted Mattis would be resigning.
In his resignation letter, he asserts, speaking directly to the president:
‘My views on 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. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity, and values… Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours… I believe it is right for me to step down.’
Thanks to the dozens of copies of this letter distributed around the Defense Department, officials will know that the president of the United States is on a path all his own hurtling towards ever further chaos and it’s increasingly their responsibility to not just keep him in line but protect the interests of the soldiers under their purview and people of the United States.
There’s been tension to this effect building for some time to the point of it coming up during presidential interactions with the media. Pressed at one point over Mattis’ future, Trump quipped the retired general was “sort of a Democrat.”
He’s been reported to have long harbored animosity towards the president behind the scenes, having come up short in his attempts to convince the president of the need of a tough stance on North Korea similar to Trump’s departure from counsel in the Syria situation. Trump eventually withdrew the U.S. from joint military exercises with South Korea and proclaimed that he’d fallen in love with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
In other words, there’s not much of a place in the Trump administration for a military man concerned about protecting American interests. The president’s national security team has gradually been becoming more explicitly in line with his partisanship thanks to the additions of national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
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