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Mattis cautions against war with Iran in first public remarks since leaving the Pentagon
In what appear to be his first public remarks on U.S. national security since his resignation as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis offered a word of caution to President Donald Trump amid escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday.
"The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year," Mattis said during remarks in the United Arab Emirates.
"Iran's behavior must change," Mattis added, "[but] the military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."
In his remarks, entitled 'The Value of the UAE-US Strategic Relationship,' Mattis emphasized diplomacy and cooperation as critical to beating back the rising tide of radical terrorism around the world. Here are the meatiest bits, courtesy of Gulf News:
"We're going to have to work together as nations to respect each other's differences but throughout this terrorism that is growing, it is not going away; it's growing in the other direction, we see it spreading in North Africa, and we see what's going on now as it spreads deeper into South Asia."
"We're going to have to figure out how to do this. We don't have to be perfect nations, each one of us. We're going to have to protect what we have and we all work on our own nations to make them better. But I'm going to be spending a lot of time studying how do we get more nations to work together and see a way for the world with less disparity. If this terrorism continues, eventually there will be a time that the terrorists get their hands on weapons of mass destruction. And we must not let that happen.
'We need to hold fast to each other. We need to engage more with each other."
Mattis's remarks came the day after Trump offered yet another strong warning to Iran following a rocket attack on the heavily-fortified Green Zone in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Monday, an attack that government sources reportedly suspect was carried out by Tehran-connected Shi'ite militias.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters that evening. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."
Trump had previously tweeted that any future threats from Iran against the United States would "be the official end of Iran."
Mattis's emphasis on diplomacy is unsurprising despite the 'Mad Dog' moniker he despised. After all, this is the same man who once told Iraqi leaders, "I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."
Indeed, Mattis was generally in favor of engaging with Iran over President Barack Obama's landmark nuclear accord, a position that put him at odds with Trump.
"If we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly, we should stay with it," he told Congress in October 2017, per ABC News. "I believe, at this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with."
It's also worth noting that Mattis was perhaps the most cool-headed of the Trump administration's military and natsec advisors. Just consider this colorful anecdote surfaced by the Washington Examiner earlier this month regarding then-national security advisor H.R. McMaster:
[McMaster] was elated to discover an Iranian plot that could provide pretext to attack. McMaster's failed efforts at intervention, including in Syria, point at institutional caution.
After a North Korean missile test in 2017, McMaster sought options for an immediate military attack during a call with then-Defense Secretary James Mattis and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The Cabinet secretaries mistakenly believed that McMaster hung up after speaking, and shared surprisingly frank thoughts, not realizing they were on speakerphone in McMaster's office.
"They thought the White House hung up our side of the phone call," the former official said. "Mattis was like, 'Rex, are you still here?' [Mattis] was like, 'Oh my God, that moron is going to get us all killed. He is an unstable asshole.' McMaster was standing there over his desk. ... He was turning bright red."
Mattis resigned on principle in December 2018 over Trump's sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, telling Trump 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."
WATCH NEXT: Gen. David Petraeus On Iran and Shia Militias
A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.
It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.
Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.
No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.
Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.
"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.
The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.
Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.
In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.
"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.