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Americans' eroding trust in all forms of government has made it impossible to solve the most serious problems facing the United States today, former Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a recent article for The Atlantic.
The retired Marine Corps general laid out why the world's oldest democracy no longer seems to be able to reach a consensus on any issue, arguing that the underlying problem is politicians no longer debate: They just launch personal attacks against each other.
"We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise," Mattis wrote. "We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. Meanwhile, the docket of urgent national issues continues to grow—unaddressed and, under present circumstances, impossible to address."
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is not talking about President Donald Trump in his new memoir Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, written with military author Bing West and released Monday.
But the book, styled as a three-part course in leadership tracing Mattis' 40-year career from Marine infantryman to head of U.S. Central Command, still delivers plenty of anecdotes and reflections that will satisfy admirers of the legendary general.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis suggested Tuesday that the nation should think again about putting young men and women together in ground combat units at a time when they tend to "grow very fond of one another."
Regarding women serving on the battlefield, "I'm not against the issue intrinsically," he said, but added that more leadership guidance is necessary to implement such a major cultural and societal change.
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.
Lucille Mattis, of Richland, Washington State, was 97.
When her son, a retired Marine Corps general, was defense secretary under President Trump from January 2017 through 2018, he frequently came back to his hometown of Richland to see her.