Tag Archives: Mattis

Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' in Syria and Isis resurgence

Mattis: Trump's troop pullout will lead to 'disarray' in Syria and Isis resurgence* Ex-defense secretary calls resurgence of Isis ‘a given’ * Kurds say 785 Isis affiliates escape camp after Turkish shellingJames Mattis declined the opportunity to directly criticise his former boss, Donald Trump. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersThe former defense secretary James Mattis has said Donald Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of US troops from the Syria-Turkey border has increased the chances of a resurgence of Islamic State. But the retired general passed up an opportunity to directly criticise the president.“If we don’t keep the pressure on,” Mattis told NBC’s Meet the Press, “then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”After Mattis’s remarks were released, the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said 785 foreign individuals affiliated with Isis had escaped the camp where they were being held, following heavy Turkish shelling.Trump announced the US withdrawal on Monday after a call with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The surprise announcement prompted widespread accusations of a betrayal of Kurds allied to the US in war-torn Syria. Turkey, which regards some Kurdish groups as terrorists, swiftly attacked. The president also said Erdoğan would visit the White House.Trump faced stringent attacks from both sides of the aisle. In Washington on Saturday night he held his ground, telling the conservative Values Voter Summit he was “an island of one”.“We have to bring our great heroes, our great soldiers, we have to bring them home,” he insisted. “It’s time. It’s time.”> If we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back> > James MattisOn Sunday morning, Trump warmed to his theme. The president said it was “very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish border, for a change”, amid a stream of tweets that included a startling statement: “Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them!”In more measured tones, defense secretary Mike Esper told CBS’ Face the Nation “it’s a very terrible situation over there” but insisted roughly 1,000 US troops would be evacuated in a “deliberate withdrawal”.US forces are not yet out of harm’s way. The Washington Post reported that Turkish forces which shelled an area where US special forces troops remained on Friday had known for months they were there.Brett McGurk, the former US envoy to the global coalition against Isis who resigned over Trump’s attempts to withdraw from Syria, told the Post: “Turkey wants us off the entire border region to a depth of 30km [20 miles]. Based on all the facts available, these were warning fires on a known location, not inadvertent rounds.”Turkey is facing threats of US sanctions – reiterated by Trump in his speech on Saturday night – unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its Nato allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports and the Arab League has denounced the operation.But airstrikes and shelling continue in Kurdish areas and harrowing scenes among panicked and grieving refugees are being reported worldwide. More than 130,000 people have been displaced from rural areas around Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain as a result of the fighting, the United Nations said. Turkish forces and their Syrian allies seized large parts of the town of Suluk, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday, the fifth day of the offensive.On Saturday, CNN reported that earlier this week Gen Mazloum Kobani Abdi, head of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, told a senior US diplomat: “You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered.”Also on Saturday, another SDF commander told a press conference: “The protection of Isis prisons will not remain our priority. The defence of our soil will be prioritised if [the] Turkish military continues its attacks.”On Sunday, the Kurds said some Isis prisoners had escaped. In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed Syrian insurgents, the Kurds said mercenaries attacked a camp where Isis “elements” attacked guards and opened the gates.“The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands from families of Isis,” the Kurds said, adding “some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted” the camp.Mattis discussed the threat of an Isis resurgence on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday.“It’s in a situation of disarray right now,” he said in excerpts released by the broadcaster. “Obviously, the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. And we’ll have to see if they’re able to maintain the fight against Isis. It’s going to have an impact. The question is, how much?”Asked if the US would regret Trump’s decision, Mattis said: “We have got to keep the pressure on Isis so they don’t recover.“We may want a war over. We may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ‘enemy gets the vote’, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then Isis will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”Trump said this week any militant prisoners escaping from camps guarded by Kurds “will be escaping to Europe”. He also said the Kurds “didn’t help us in the second world war, they didn’t help us in Normandy, for example”.Mattis’s apparent disinclination to directly criticise the president, even as Syria spirals into ever worse chaos as a result of US actions, is in keeping with his approach since resigning in December 2018.The retired US Marine Corps general has said he has a “duty of silence” regarding the president he served. That commitment has held despite Mattis having resigned, like McGurk, in response to an earlier attempt by Trump to pull US troops from Syria and in protest at his treatment of America’s allies.In September, Mattis published a memoir, Call Sign Chaos. The book skirted his service to Trump, focusing instead on his career in the US armed forces.



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U.S. should side with Hong Kong protesters, says ex-Pentagon chief Mattis

U.S. should side with Hong Kong protesters, says ex-Pentagon chief MattisFormer U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday anti-government protests in Hong Kong were “not an internal” Chinese matter and that the United States should offer at least moral support to the demonstrators. The retired U.S. Marine general, speaking at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, said the United States should generally side with those standing up for human rights, which he said included the Hong Kong protesters. “When people stand up for those (rights), I just inherently think we ought to stand with them, even if it’s just moral,” said Mattis, who abruptly resigned as Pentagon chief in December over disagreements with President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.



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Call Sign Chaos review: James Mattis pulls a flanking manuever on Trump

Call Sign Chaos review: James Mattis pulls a flanking manuever on TrumpIn a memoir that is part hymn to the constitution, the former secretary of defense offers only veiled criticism of the presidentJames Mattis listens as Donald Trump speaks to the media in the cabinet room in October 2018. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersJames Mattis was Donald Trump’s defense secretary for less than two years, resigning in December 2018. The general’s departure came with headlines but little surprise. His resignation letter omitted any praise for the commander-in-chief. “Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” he wrote, “I believe it is right for me to step down.”Mattis had been on thin ice for a long time. At an infamous cabinet meeting in June 2017, Mattis praised the men and women of the military instead of gushing over the president. Just months later, a White House official told me Mattis had shown insufficient loyalty to Trump. But because North Korea was on the front burner – before “Little Rocket Man” had started sending Trump love letters – the president felt he needed generals around him. In the end, everyone in Trump’s orbit is expendable. Except Ivanka Trump.Call Sign Chaos, Mattis’s memoir, is a readable look at more than four decades as a marine. Co-written with Bing West, a former marine and Reagan Pentagon alumnus, the book spans Mattis’s career, from enlistment through retirement.It contains veiled disapproval of Trump and is sharper in expressing disagreements with his Oval Office predecessors.> Call Sign Chaos takes aim at bigotry and lauds the military service of migrants. It gives full-throated support for NatoOfficially, the book’s title derives from the call-sign bestowed when Mattis became a regimental commander, Chaos an acronym for “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution”.Mattis comes across as plain-spoken and reflective, a fan of books and history. Abraham Lincoln and Gettysburg receive their due. As a younger man, however, Mattis was not above brawling. In other words, he’s interesting.He repeatedly expresses his regard for America’s institutions and its constitution even as he offers criticism, one thing which sets him apart from the 45th president.“I’ve developed a love affair with our constitution,” Mattis writes.He tells of getting into a fight in Montana with three other men. Then 19, he was rewarded with a brief jail sentence and a sheriff’s escort to a westbound freight train. His brush with the law became a formative experience.Mattis recalls that as a marine recruiter he was confronted with a prospect who had been arrested for a “single use of cocaine”. Channeling his inner Nick Saban on the value of “second chances”, Mattis pushed for a waiver. “There’s a huge difference,” he writes, “between making a mistake and letting that mistake define you.”As Mattis moved up the ranks, interaction with Congress, the White House and civilian Pentagon leadership became a norm, although not necessarily a welcome one. Mattis professes to prefer the field and his troops. DC was not his “cup of tea”. Yet he appears to have overcome that hurdle, to a point anyway, when he was appointed executive secretary to Bill Clinton’s defense chiefs, William Perry and William Cohen.“I gained an abiding respect for those with whom I served and from whom I also learned a new skill set,” he writes. “I had a front-row seat to policymaking as it was supposed to work.”As for congressional oversight and the power of the purse, Mattis “received a pragmatic introduction to article one of the constitution”, a reminder to the reader that it is Congress that is tasked with raising America’s armed forces.Mattis saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq. He blames Tommy Franks, head of US Central Command and an army general, for Osama bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora, his refusal to deploy the marines a key cause of that debacle. As Mattis frames things: “We in the military missed the opportunity, not the president, who properly deferred to his senior military commander on how to carry out the mission.”But Iraq was a different story, and there Mattis places blame squarely on George W Bush for getting the US into the mess, and on Barack Obama and Joe Biden for the mode of the eventual pullback. As for going to war, Mattis observes: “Invading Iraq stunned me. Why were we fighting them again?”> For Mattis, Iran was an implacable foe. He also believes Tehran came to view the Obama administration as 'impotent'In a chapter titled Incoherence, Mattis acidly mocks and quotes Bush 43’s Freedom Agenda. These days, Iraq is ranked “not free” by Freedom House. Irony abounds.He commends Obama for his intelligence and reserve and Biden for his warmth. Yet he tags them over the pullout from Iraq, Obama’s imaginary red line in Syria and their stance toward Iran. He does not mask his disapproval.For Mattis, Iran was an implacable foe. He also believes Tehran came to view the Obama administration as “impotent”. To the general, proof positive lay in the failure to respond to an Iranian plot to bomb Cafe Milano, a restaurant just miles from the White House, and assassinate the Saudi ambassador.Mattis also takes aim at WikiLeaks, describing it as “new kind of adversary” that “inflicted deep harm” to American interests. Unlike Trump, he never harbored any love for Julian Assange’s creation.To Mattis, American uncertainty and messianism can both have steep downsides. As he saw it, an absence of strategy would engender the sense that the US was “proving unreliable.”“I was disappointed and frustrated,” he writes. “Policymakers all too often failed to deliver clear direction.”Yet Mattis does not grapple with domestic political realities. Lives and treasure aside, Iraq cost the Republicans both houses of Congress in 2006 and paved the way for Obama. Furthermore, casualty counts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were factors in Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Not everything is about Russia.When it comes to Trump, Mattis flanks, avoiding a head-on clash. Call Sign Chaos takes aim at bigotry and lauds the military service of migrants. As in his resignation letter, Mattis gives full-throated support for Nato: “Nations with allies thrive, and those without wither.”In his epilogue, Mattis notes America’s political divide and full-throated tribalism. But he is optimistic. Call Sign Chaos ends thus: “E Pluribus Unum.”



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Call Sign Chaos review: James Mattis pulls a flanking manuever on Trump

Call Sign Chaos review: James Mattis pulls a flanking manuever on TrumpIn a memoir that is part hymn to the constitution, the former secretary of defense offers only veiled criticism of the presidentJames Mattis listens as Donald Trump speaks to the media in the cabinet room in October 2018. Photograph: Leah Millis/ReutersJames Mattis was Donald Trump’s defense secretary for less than two years, resigning in December 2018. The general’s departure came with headlines but little surprise. His resignation letter omitted any praise for the commander-in-chief. “Because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” he wrote, “I believe it is right for me to step down.”Mattis had been on thin ice for a long time. At an infamous cabinet meeting in June 2017, Mattis praised the men and women of the military instead of gushing over the president. Just months later, a White House official told me Mattis had shown insufficient loyalty to Trump. But because North Korea was on the front burner – before “Little Rocket Man” had started sending Trump love letters – the president felt he needed generals around him. In the end, everyone in Trump’s orbit is expendable. Except Ivanka Trump.Call Sign Chaos, Mattis’s memoir, is a readable look at more than four decades as a marine. Co-written with Bing West, a former marine and Reagan Pentagon alumnus, the book spans Mattis’s career, from enlistment through retirement.It contains veiled disapproval of Trump and is sharper in expressing disagreements with his Oval Office predecessors.> Call Sign Chaos takes aim at bigotry and lauds the military service of migrants. It gives full-throated support for NatoOfficially, the book’s title derives from the call-sign bestowed when Mattis became a regimental commander, Chaos an acronym for “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution”.Mattis comes across as plain-spoken and reflective, a fan of books and history. Abraham Lincoln and Gettysburg receive their due. As a younger man, however, Mattis was not above brawling. In other words, he’s interesting.He repeatedly expresses his regard for America’s institutions and its constitution even as he offers criticism, one thing which sets him apart from the 45th president.“I’ve developed a love affair with our constitution,” Mattis writes.He tells of getting into a fight in Montana with three other men. Then 19, he was rewarded with a brief jail sentence and a sheriff’s escort to a westbound freight train. His brush with the law became a formative experience.Mattis recalls that as a marine recruiter he was confronted with a prospect who had been arrested for a “single use of cocaine”. Channeling his inner Nick Saban on the value of “second chances”, Mattis pushed for a waiver. “There’s a huge difference,” he writes, “between making a mistake and letting that mistake define you.”As Mattis moved up the ranks, interaction with Congress, the White House and civilian Pentagon leadership became a norm, although not necessarily a welcome one. Mattis professes to prefer the field and his troops. DC was not his “cup of tea”. Yet he appears to have overcome that hurdle, to a point anyway, when he was appointed executive secretary to Bill Clinton’s defense chiefs, William Perry and William Cohen.“I gained an abiding respect for those with whom I served and from whom I also learned a new skill set,” he writes. “I had a front-row seat to policymaking as it was supposed to work.”As for congressional oversight and the power of the purse, Mattis “received a pragmatic introduction to article one of the constitution”, a reminder to the reader that it is Congress that is tasked with raising America’s armed forces.Mattis saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq. He blames Tommy Franks, head of US Central Command and an army general, for Osama bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora, his refusal to deploy the marines a key cause of that debacle. As Mattis frames things: “We in the military missed the opportunity, not the president, who properly deferred to his senior military commander on how to carry out the mission.”But Iraq was a different story, and there Mattis places blame squarely on George W Bush for getting the US into the mess, and on Barack Obama and Joe Biden for the mode of the eventual pullback. As for going to war, Mattis observes: “Invading Iraq stunned me. Why were we fighting them again?”> For Mattis, Iran was an implacable foe. He also believes Tehran came to view the Obama administration as 'impotent'In a chapter titled Incoherence, Mattis acidly mocks and quotes Bush 43’s Freedom Agenda. These days, Iraq is ranked “not free” by Freedom House. Irony abounds.He commends Obama for his intelligence and reserve and Biden for his warmth. Yet he tags them over the pullout from Iraq, Obama’s imaginary red line in Syria and their stance toward Iran. He does not mask his disapproval.For Mattis, Iran was an implacable foe. He also believes Tehran came to view the Obama administration as “impotent”. To the general, proof positive lay in the failure to respond to an Iranian plot to bomb Cafe Milano, a restaurant just miles from the White House, and assassinate the Saudi ambassador.Mattis also takes aim at WikiLeaks, describing it as “new kind of adversary” that “inflicted deep harm” to American interests. Unlike Trump, he never harbored any love for Julian Assange’s creation.To Mattis, American uncertainty and messianism can both have steep downsides. As he saw it, an absence of strategy would engender the sense that the US was “proving unreliable.”“I was disappointed and frustrated,” he writes. “Policymakers all too often failed to deliver clear direction.”Yet Mattis does not grapple with domestic political realities. Lives and treasure aside, Iraq cost the Republicans both houses of Congress in 2006 and paved the way for Obama. Furthermore, casualty counts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were factors in Hillary Clinton’s defeat. Not everything is about Russia.When it comes to Trump, Mattis flanks, avoiding a head-on clash. Call Sign Chaos takes aim at bigotry and lauds the military service of migrants. As in his resignation letter, Mattis gives full-throated support for Nato: “Nations with allies thrive, and those without wither.”In his epilogue, Mattis notes America’s political divide and full-throated tribalism. But he is optimistic. Call Sign Chaos ends thus: “E Pluribus Unum.”



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Mattis suggests he might not like Trump 'one fricking bit' but says he's holding fire on him — for now

Mattis suggests he might not like Trump 'one fricking bit' but says he's holding fire on him — for nowThe widely respected former defense secretary says he is keeping his criticisms of Trump to himself for now, but this won't last "forever."



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Jim Mattis writes rebuke of Trump's leadership

Jim Mattis writes rebuke of Trump's leadershipFormer Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has written what appears to be a not-so-subtle rebuke of President Trump's leadership, not just at home but also on the world stage.



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Ex-Pentagon chief Mattis warns US cannot survive without allies

Ex-Pentagon chief Mattis warns US cannot survive without alliesFormer US Defense Secretary Warned Wednesday that the United States cannot survive without its allies, days after the G7 summit showed President Donald Trump out of step with America’s key partners. “An oft-spoken admonition in the Marines is this: When you’re going to a gunfight, bring all your friends with guns,” Mattis wrote in the Wall Street Journal, in his first public comments since quitting in a policy dispute with Trump last December. “A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed,” Mattis wrote.



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President Trump slams former Secretary of Defense James Mattis

President Trump slams former Secretary of Defense James MattisPresident Donald Trump blasted his former Defense secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday, claiming he "essentially fired" the top military aide.



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As Mattis exits, he tells U.S. military to keep 'faith in our country'

As Mattis exits, he tells U.S. military to keep 'faith in our country'Mattis, who had been seen as a stabilizing factor in U.S. defense policy, is due to transfer authority near midnight to his deputy, Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing Co executive. Mattis, a retired Marine general who has often shied from the spotlight, did not have any sort of departure ceremony when he left the Pentagon, leaving his farewell memo as his final public remarks as defense secretary.



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After Mattis, Shanahan takes Pentagon helm at critical time

After Mattis, Shanahan takes Pentagon helm at critical timePatrick Shanahan, who on Tuesday becomes the acting US secretary of defense, takes the helm of America’s massive military machine at a critical time. Shanahan is moving up from his position as deputy defense secretary to the top spot following the resignation of Jim Mattis, who quit over long-running — and ultimately irreconcilable — disagreements with President Donald Trump. Little known outside business and Washington circles, Shanahan will be thrust onto the world stage at a time of tumultuous changes and unpredictable foreign policy moves under Trump.



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