Ricks: All I Want For Christmas Is A New Secretary Of Defense

The Long March
DoD

And so Mattis goes.


It was probably inevitable after his former subordinate John Kelly was said to be leaving his post as White House chief of staff.

President Trump announced on Thursday afternoon the departure of James Mattis as defense secretary. I am sorry to see him go — in one of the most turbulent cabinets in American history, Mattis has been something of a rock.

I think Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria probably was the last straw for him. Not just the unilateral nature of it, antagonizing European allies, but also the fact that it almost certainly was contrary to Mattis’ view of what needed to be done in the Middle East.

The odd thing is that this is the second administration in a row that has ousted Mattis over his views of what needs to be done in the Middle East. The Obama White House thought Mattis too obstinate in asking “what next?” questions about Middle East policy, and also in pushing for tough responses to Iranian moves in the region. The Trump Administration — well, it looks to be doing about the same thing for the same reasons.

It also means that all the generals Trump brought into the administration — Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly, and Mattis — will have left within two years.

So Mattis heads back to the food bank in Richland, Washington, where he worked before being tapped to be defense secretary. I am sure he feels relieved at the prospect, and also that he did the best he could for his country as long as he could.

My real worry is who succeeds Mattis at the Pentagon.

I’ve heard Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas mentioned. I know little about him but I do like that he served in the Army and did deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq in 2006 was pretty rough — I actually was embedded with the 101st Airborne a bit then, but I don’t recall running into Lt. Cotton.

Cotton would be vastly preferable to John Bolton, the national security advisor, and a man I consider to lack judgment.

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.

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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.

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A projectile is fired during North Korea's missile tests in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 28, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)

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.

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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.

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Erik Prince arrives for the New York Young Republican Club Gala at The Yale Club of New York City in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

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.

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