Tag: James Mattis

Marines concerned about abandoning allies

In a stunning move to many civilians, Secretary of Defense James Mattis tendered his resignation from the Trump White House, effectively giving a two months notice while citing mutually irreconcilable differences when it comes to philosophy. Many Marines see this as a fulfillment of his commitment.

This resignation is by far the most significant departure from the Trump White House. Mattis was a uniting force that caused some “Never Trump” Marines to get begrudgingly on board. It also comes on the heels of the current administration announcing her full withdrawal from Syria.

Mattis made clear his feelings on abandoning allies in his resignation letter. In it, he cast some major shade at Trump but stayed classy about it as Mattis is wont to do. When contacted about this, many Marines both active and prior service were reluctant to divulge their true feelings, but the overall sentiment is that abandonment is bad and we should not abandon our allies in Syria and that Mattis may be abandoning us.

There is fear that Turkey will invade Syria when we pull out as per Mike Fonda, a decorated US Marine who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan under the stars and stripes only to return to the Middle East to fight for YPG, a local Marxist militia.

Other Marines were worried about an unleashed Trump with no Mattis to reign him in. “I don’t know,” said Elizabeth West, “Are people going to remember this as a slap at Trump or as the time he abandoned us to a madman?”

This is an overarching concern of Marines. West comes from a military family and is currently out of the service so has full rights to talk shit about the administration. 




In his resignation letter, Mattis has committed to staying till February to get a replacement up to speed and to do so before the change over of the joint chiefs scheduled in September.

North Korea calls Trump’s bluff (Update on Trump’s statement)

Yesterday I wrote that Trump’s threat to send “fire, fury, and power the likes of which the world has never seen before” raining down on Pyeongyang if Kim Jong-un threatened to attack the U.S. was reckless because it would put American credibility at stake.

I said:

There are only two things that can come of Trump’s threat to respond with “power the likes of which this world has never seen before”:
1.) Trump is bluffing, and he doesn’t start a nuclear war with North Korea. Many lives are initially saved, but America’s credibility is damaged, causing North Korea to push forward with its nuclear weapons program and raising the risk of war later.
or
2.) Trump does incite a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.

It was just a few hours later that North Korea made a threat to strike Guam. As I wrote at the time, North Korea makes implausibly bellicose threats all the time, and it is wise not to always take them at face value. Yet Trump specifically mentioned “threats” in his statement (“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States”), so for him to not follow through would mean North Korea once again found his words to be not credible.

The result:
Trump just set his own, uncrossable ‘red line’ — and North Korea crossed it instantly – CNBC
North Korea just called Trump’s bluff. So what happens now? – Washington Post

Trump appears (wisely, it should be said) to have opted for choice #1 of the two choices, at least for now.

If and when the President does a real red line, however, will North Korea believe him? And if they don’t, would that mean war?

Maybe world leaders will realize that Trump is a buffoon and take their cues on America’s position from smarter men like Secretary of Defense Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson, and National Security Advisor McMaster (who is currently facing an attack from the alt-right).

To that end, Mattis put out a statement, in much more refined language, that threatened strong actions should North Korea go too far but also affirmed America’s strength and ability to deter:

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Syria Strike: The better of two possible outcomes?

In the aftermath of the U.S. strike on a Syrian airstrip, the world is left to consider what this means for U.S. foreign policy under the Trump administration.

While many, including myself, have been disconcerted by the prospect of American intervention in Syria, the outcome so far of Trump’s foreign policy can also be seen as reassuring compared to the extreme foreign policy vision of withdrawing from NATO, letting nuclear weapons proliferate in Asia, and committing war crimes and stealing oil he promised on the campaign trail.

Jeet Heer of the New Republic summarizes what apparently happened: The Generals won their war with Trump. Many said they hoped James Mattis would be a voice of rationality for the administration, as opposed to Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon. Now both of them are gone from the National Security Council, and H.R. McMasters has joined as well.

The problem, however, could be that men of uniform are generally more likely to rely on military solutions for almost any problem, especially in an administration where the State Department is understaffed and facing a proposed 30% budget cut.

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