Ex-Pentagon chief Jim Mattis says bitter politics threaten US

Ex-Pentagon chief Jim Mattis says bitter politics threaten US”

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis penned a reflective condemnation of his old boss, President Donald Trump, and urged Americans to reject the "tribalism" and divisive rhetoric stirred up by the current administration.

"Nations with allies thrive", he wrote in the Journal essay, "and those without them wither".

While he does not criticize Trump by name, it's clear whom Mattis is referring to when he writes, "A polemicist's role is not sufficient for a leader".

As Mattis tells the story, he flew to New Jersey in November 2016 for an interview with President-Elect Donald Trump but didn't expect to be offered the job, given what he thought were disagreements with Trump on issues such as the torture of prisoners and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

"Unlike in the past, where we were unified and drew in allies, now our own commons seems to be breaking apart", he wrote. 'When my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated, it was time to resign, despite the limitless joy I felt serving alongside our troops in defense of our Constitution'.

While the Warrior Monk (a nickname) apparently was not thrilled about returning to Washington, D.C., saying he doesn't draw energy from the "turmoil and politics that animate our capital", he was compelled to answer the call, feeling he could gain bipartisan support for a Defense Department he said was seeing its military advantage erode.

"A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed", Mattis wrote.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a hearing on Capitol Hill
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis listens to a question during a hearing on Capitol Hill

Although Mattis' views were no secret when he served in Trump's Cabinet, he had maintained near-total public silence since resigning.

Mattis, who was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps from his enlistment in 1969 until his retirement in 2013, took perhaps his deepest veiled jab at Trump in the essay by describing a European admiral he worked with in 2002. They believed a withdrawal was abandoning America's allies, who had fought to reclaim territory from the Islamic State.

"In the three years since I had left active duty, haphazard funding had significantly worsened the situation, doing more damage to our current and future military readiness than any enemy in the field", he wrote.

Mattis said he was shocked when he received a call from Vice President-elect Mike Pence in November 2016 asking if he would meet with Trump in Bedminster, New Jersey, to discuss the defense secretary job.

Mattis said he "did as well as I could, for as long as I could" as secretary of defense. "Tribalism must not be allowed to destroy our experiment".

Regarding his reasons for leaving, Mattis offered a slightly more pointed explanation than what his resignation letter outlined.

More than six months after Mattis' resignation, Mark Esper assumed office as the new Defense secretary, he was confirmed with a Senate vote of 90-8 in late July.

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