Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Is Leaving
One day after Trump’s announcement he’s pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, the President Tweets his Defense Secretary is going.
Update: Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post says Mattis quit Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office. And the Post’s military reporter Dan Lamothe Tweets it was directly related to Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria, and now Afghanistan. What was the last straw? According to Lamothe, “It came down to reneging on promises made to allies in combat. Period.” Turkey is already threatening Kurdish rebels in Syria that the U.S. has been backing. Similarly, the U.S. has been helping Afghan military battle the Taliban. Meanwhile, Russia — who’s staying in Syria — is propping up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (According to Bob Woodward’s book, at one point Trump wanted to assassinate Assad. And Trump did order a missile strike on Syrian military targets after he saw photos of a chemical weapons attack Assad ordered against his own people, including children.)
That’s why we found this part of Mattis’ resignation later particularly poignant and telling (you can read the rest rest of it by clicking here):
“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
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.”
No further Tweets or thoughts from Trump at time of this update.
The former four-star General will serve through the end of February.
Not a complete surprise, except for the timing. But shocking nonetheless. (In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Trump quipped: “I think he’s sort of a Democrat”). But the move creates a whole new world of uncertainty about who’s next up. Mattis, along with exiting White House Chief of Staff John Kelly have certainly numbered among the “grownups” surrounding Trump. And most of the many former generals Trump somewhat controversially brought into his administration at the beginning are now gone.