The resignation of General Mattis should alarm us all

Arturo Kim
December 21, 2018

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has submitted his resignation, telling President Donald Trump on Thursday that their views are not aligned, just a day after Trump's surprise announcement on U.S. troops in Syria.

He said he spoke to Mattis Thursday and is "of one mind" with the retired top Marine general on the USA troop presence in Syria and Afghanistan.

His departure date will be February 28, 2019, which he noted should give the president and the department enough time to his replacement to be nominated and confirmed.

Mattis, a retired Marine general whose embrace of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and America's traditional alliances often put him at odds with Trump had advised against the Syria withdrawal. "It is imperative that he pick someone for the Pentagon - and frankly, clear out the rest of his national security team - and appoint people he can trust and whose views comport with his own".

Bolton, the current National Security Adviser, seemed like a clear frontrunner for the gig, especially as his hawkish tendencies drew the President to his side more often than not, but the former United Nations ambassador sided with Mattis in disapproval of Trump's decision to pull out of Syria.

Trump, however, went with Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley, which came as a blow to Mattis.

Erdogan and Trump spoke on the phone and during the conversation Trump told his national security adviser John Bolton to "start the work" to prepare withdrawing troops from Syria, according to Hurriyet daily.

The president made promises during his campaign to stop expending money and lives on foreign wars to rebuild the United States.

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Members of Congress also decried Mattis's departure, and some experts such as DeJonge Schulman are hoping Capitol Hill will step up to check Trump in Mattis's place. Since taking the job, Mattis has repeatedly visited to share reassuring words about the alliance with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked about Mattis as a restraining influence on Trump. "'Mattis" departure smooths the way for Trump to implement his decision'. And as Secretary Mattis makes clear in his letter, President Trump's coziness with authoritarian regimes and his animosity to our closest allies are increasingly indefensible'. But he can not be expected to stand behind a President who disrespects our allies and ingratiates himself to our adversaries, ' said William Cohen, who served as defense secretary under Bill Clinton and knows Mattis well. Mattis and others ultimately persuaded Trump to pour additional resources and troops into the conflict to press toward a resolution. Mattis was a great advocate of India-US defence relationship.

Mattis hailed the coalition to defeat the Islamic State as well as Nato, the almost 70-year-old alliance between North America and Europe whose cost-effectiveness has been questioned by the businessman turned president.

"It wasn't a forced resignation", the official said.

"He informed his staff after returning from the White House this afternoon", Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said. But it's hard not to respect that he just had the courage to do what no one else in the Trump administration has done - resign in protest and go public with his grave concerns about the danger that Trump poses to the country and the world.

He released the letter after a face-to-face meeting with Trump in which the two men also aired their differences, a senior White House official said. In March, Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In Paris, former French diplomatic adviser François Heisbourg tweeted that Mattis had stabilized a dysfunctional administration and "helped preserve the Western alliance system".

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