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Mattis wags his knife hand at toxic leadership in Washington with a veiled jab at Trump
Buried in former Defense Secretary James Mattis' essay in the Wall Street Journal is a leadership lesson that sounds an awful lot like a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump's tendency to bully subordinates in person and on social media.
While the retired Marine general does not dwell on his decision to resign last December in protest over Trump's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops in Syria, which the commander-in-chief later reversed. Instead, Mattis opted to reiterate what he wrote in his resignation letter about the importance of treating allies with respect.
"Using every skill I had learned during my decades as a Marine, I did as well as I could for as long as I could," Mattis wrote in Wednesday's op-ed. "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."
Ever the professional warrior, Mattis does not criticize Trump directly. He did, however, recall a former NATO assignment when he worked with a European admiral who would yell in front of his officers in the presence of others and ridiculed reports he felt were subpar. His staff, Mattis writes, feared rather than respected him:
"I called in the admiral and carefully explained why I disapproved of his leadership," Mattis wrote. "'Your staff resents you,' I said. 'You're disappointed in their input. OK. But your criticism makes that input worse, not better. You're going the wrong way. You cannot allow your passion for excellence to destroy your compassion for them as human beings.' This was a point I had always driven home to my subordinates.
"'Change your leadership style,' I continued. 'Coach and encourage; don't berate, least of all in public.'
"But he soon reverted to demeaning his subordinates. I shouldn't have been surprised. When for decades you have been rewarded and promoted, it's difficult to break the habits you've acquired, regardless of how they may have worked in another setting. Finally, I told him to go home."
Mattis does not draw a direct parallel between the admiral and Trump, but it's hard not to see the similarities: he and the commander-in-chief had a fraught relationship for the last year of Mattis' tenure.
In August 2018, Trump contradicted Mattis on whether joint military exercises in South Korea could resume amid tensions with North Korea, tweeting, "There is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games."
And that December, after media reports focused on the not-so-veiled criticism of the commander-in-chief in Mattis' resignation letter about the need to treat U.S. allies better, an enraged Trump falsely claimed that he had fired Mattis, telling the New York Times in February: "I wasn't happy with Mattis. I told Mattis to give me a letter. He didn't just give me that letter. I told him."
Trump has demonstrated all the traits of toxic leadership that Mattis ascribed to the unnamed admiral in his op-ed. This time, though, Mattis knew he was the one who had to go home.
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.