Secretary of Defense James Mattis called bullsh*t on a report that claimed he'd been dispatched to make nice with skittish NATO allies following President Donald Trump's aggressive two-day summit with European leaders, calling the suggestion that the Pentagon had entered "damage control" mode as "fiction"
- “That was fascinating. I love reading fiction. So it was — it was stimulating to read it. ” Mattis told the Washington Examiner on July 13 of the report from NBC News, one authored by the same reporters who wrote in June that the secretary of defense was "out of the loop" in the Trump administration. "I find out while I've been with you with full transparency on the airplane, you watching what's going on; that I've been in damage control.”
- Mattis had reiterated during a flight from Brussels to Croatia on July 12 that the United States remained "100 percent committed to NATO," adding that the alliance "is stronger today than it was yesterday, stronger today than it was a month ago, stronger today than it was a year ago," according to Reuters.
- During his meeting with defense ministers under the U.S.-Adriatic Charter Croatia that day, Mattis reaffirmed the “unbreakable trans-Atlantic bond” between the United States and Europe, adding that “some elsewhere would wish to see us fail in our endeavors here today" — a clear jab at Russia amid years of aggression in eastern Europe.
- The next day, on July 14, Mattis emphasized the U.S. commitment to European security once again during a meeting with Norwegian defense officials, where he stated that the U.S.-Norway alliance was "bolstered by strong shared values and our desire, our mutual desire for trans-Atlantic unity as demonstrated by the importance our two nations place on democracy, on individual liberties and the rule of law."
All of these statements came following a whirlwind confab in which Trump insisted that NATO allies by a higher proportion of their GDP than the U.S. does for collective security, stepped all over NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and made his own aides cringe with the bizarre assertion that the Germany government is a tool of the Russian due to a mutually beneficial energy deal — all signs that seem to indicate Trump wants to completely dismantle the historic alliance.
So no, Mattis is definitely not doing "damage control." Not even a little. Nope.