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In 2014, Mattis Said What Would Make Him Resign In Protest. In 2018, He Actually Did It
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has resigned in protest of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria, according to The New York Times.
His resignation letter, while critical of the president's views on foreign policy, did not mention Syria, but officials told The Times that Mattis traveled to the White House on Thursday "in a last attempt to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result."
Interestingly, Mattis once revealed what would lead him to resign in protest during an April 2014 talk in San Francisco, and he made it clear that he would only do so under the most dire of circumstances, since his subordinates would not be able to do the same.
"The lance corporals can't retire. They're going. That's all there is to it," he said.
First, some context:
In 2003, Mattis was the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division. He was ordered into Iraq in March and led his division to victory over Baghdad. But privately, he knew going to war against Saddam Hussein probably wasn't the best call.
"I think people were pretty much aware that the US military didn't think it was a very wise idea," he said in 2015, before being named Defense Secretary. "But we give a cheery 'Aye aye, Sir.' Because when you elect someone commander in chief — we give our advice. We generally give it in private."
Mattis, like many other generals before the war, offered his advice to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the problems of going into Iraq. This frank advice is expected of high-ranking military officers, but ultimately it's up to the civilian leadership to make the decision.
Still, seven retired generals eventually came out publicly against Rumsfeld in 2007 in what was dubbed "the generals' revolt." Mattis, still on active duty at the time, was not among them.
Later, during his April 2014 talk in San Francisco, he was asked specifically about whether there was a scenario in which he may have retired in protest. Mattis allowed some unethical orders and other scenarios that would lead him to do so, but he said, "you have to be very careful about doing that. The lance corporals can't retire. They're going. That's all there is to it."
He added: "You abandon him only under the most dire circumstances, where the message you have to send can be sent no other way. I never confronted that situation."
In Dec. 2018, it looks like he finally did.
“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.