The recent resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis reminds us that serving the nation at the strategic level is not an amoral activity, nor a place where realism pushes ethics off the stage or where Machiavelli is more useful than Aristotle. A lot has been written on the meaning of Secretary Mattis's resignation pointing out, correctly, that his was a principled resignation. But few say exactly what those principles are.

For me, a close reading of his resignation letter and understanding his reasoning can reveal how closely related are the strategic and the moral.

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U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan arrives at Combat Outpost Sharp in April 2010 (Photo: DoD)

Retired Army Gen. Stan McChrystal sharply criticized President Donald Trump in an interview with ABC News on Sunday, going so far as to say Trump is "immoral" and someone he'd refuse to work for.

"If we want to be governed by someone we wouldn't do a business deal with because their — their background is so shady, if we're willing to do that, then that's in conflict with who I think we are," McChrystal told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.

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