Tag Archives: DoD

Gen. Mattis comes clean: ‘I had to leave the administration’

James Mattis is showing his class, his devotion to country and his dedication to public service. How? By revealing that Donald Trump’s shamble-driven management style forced him to resign as secretary of defense.

He quit because of policy differences with the commander in chief. Trump, quite unsurprisingly, dismissed the differences he had with Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, a combat veteran and — to my way of thinking — one of the few actual grownups who has served in the Trump administration.

Mattis became frustrated with Trump’s policy pronouncements by Twitter. He couldn’t function while there was no clear line of communication between his staff and the White House.

So, he quit.

I, along with other Americans, was struck by tone of Mattis’s statement announcing his resignation. He took great pains to salute the men and women who served under his command; he paid tribute to his Pentagon staff and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn’t say a word of praise for the president of the United States.

Gosh! Can you imagine that?

Atlantic magazine has published a story telling how Mattis told those close to him about his decision to leave the administration. See the story here.

The bottom line for James Mattis is that he just “couldn’t take it any more.” Who knew?

DNI is the latest to jump the sinking ship?

Imagine my (non)surprise to hear that Dan Coats is “stepping down” from his job as director of national intelligence in the Donald J. Trump administration.

The president has made damn few appointments that I could endorse. Coats was one of them. Coats, a former Indiana U.S. senator House member, is an establishment Republican with valuable political contacts/friendships/alliances in Washington, D.C. He served as a key bridge between the renegade president and the political pros who run things on Capitol Hill.

He also is a serious policy hound who knows how to walk through the maze of government mumbo-jumbo.

Coats also had some run-ins with the president, who you’ll remember challenged the intelligence community’s assertion that Russia hacked into our electoral system in 2016. They performed with evil intent to help Trump get elected. Trump, of course, sided with Russian strongman Vlad Putin and denigrated the intelligence network’s diligence on the matter.

Coats was at the center of that dispute.

I hate that the administration is losing a seasoned pro like DNI Dan Coats. Trump says he’ll nominate U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — a staunch Trump supporter on Capitol Hill — to succeed Coats.

Trump called Ratcliffe a “highly respected” member of Congress, a former U.S. attorney. The president also reportedly was impressed by the way Ratcliffe grilled former special counsel Robert Mueller III during Mueller’s marathon testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees — of which Ratcliffe is a member … of both panels.

Coats, to my way of thinking, ranks alongside former Defense Secretary James Mattis as among the more stellar Trump appointments. Mattis bolted after quarreling with the president. Now it’s Coats who is leaving, reportedly for the same reasons.

Hmm. What’s the common denominator? Oh, gosh! It must be the president of the United States.

Where is the vetting, Mr. President?

Patrick Shanahan’s withdrawal from consideration to be defense secretary brings to the fore the issue of whether he was vetted properly before Donald Trump appointed him to be acting secretary of defense.

The president had said he wanted Shanahan to be confirmed for the permanent job … except that he had some serious, egregious baggage.

It turns out Shanahan was accused of beating the daylights out of his then-wife in 2010.

The media have reported in just recent hours about Shanahan’s history. It makes a lot of us wonder: Is there any vetting going on in the West Wing of the White House?

I have to wonder how in the world the president puts forth an individual who has something so grievous in his background. Does anyone within the White House personnel operation understand that these kinds of things cannot be kept secret? Not ever?

This isn’t the first incidence of senior officials being “outed” over instances of domestic abuse.

Another ‘acting defense secretary’ set to take over

How is this going to work?

The United States well might go to war with Iran. We’re still fighting terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and who knows where else. The Pentagon has just ordered another 1,000 American troops into the Persian Gulf region.

Against that backdrop, the acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, today has pulled out of the nomination to become the permanent defense boss.

Is this another example of Donald Trump’s “fine-tuned machine” in action? Is this how we’re supposed to believe that our national security network is in steady hands?

Trump has named Army Secretary Mark Esper to be the latest acting defense secretary. For how long will Esper be the “acting” Pentagon boss?

Oh, my.

I’m still trying to get over the resignation of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who quit because of serious policy disagreements with the president, who then lied about Mattis being “fired.”

Shanahan said something today about wanting to spend more time with his children. Trump said Shanahan had done a great job as the acting defense secretary. There were reports of a domestic disturbance in 2010 with his now former wife, which might have played a part in his decision to pull out of the effort to be confirmed as permanent defense secretary.

The revolving door keeps on turning at the Pentagon. It is happening at a time of tremendous national peril.

What in the world can possibly go wrong without a strong hand at the Pentagon helm?

Frightening.

Guy with no experience to lead Pentagon? Oh … wait!

Donald Trump has decided that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan should get the job on a more permanent basis.

Thus, he is nominating the former Boeing Co. executive to lead the world’s mightiest military apparatus.

Shanahan would seek to fill a huge void created by the resignation in late 2018 of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned over differences he had with the president’s defense policy.

OK, the critics are out already regarding Shanahan. They say that his lack of any defense experience does not commend him to this job.

I must say: Whoa! Wait a minute!

In 1961, another president, John F. Kennedy, named a Ford Inc., executive, Robert McNamara, to lead the Pentagon. McNamara had the same zero defense experience that Shanahan would bring to his new job.

Now, it’s a highly debatable point that McNamara did a good job as defense secretary. He did lie to the public about whether the nation was winning the Vietnam War in the 1960s. He kept the truth from us until the mid-1990s, when he wrote in a book that he knew as early as 1963 that Vietnam was essentially a lost cause.

His lack of experience, though, likely didn’t play a part in McNamara’s big-league deception.

Do I wish the president could find someone with the chops that James Mattis brought to the post? Sure. Then again, would another revered general-grade officer — such as Mattis — last any longer than the retired Marine did? Likely not.

Still, let’s not dismiss Patrick Shanahan just because he doesn’t have prior government experience.

VPOTUS is getting roasted … for loyalty to POTUS?

I am going to shock, maybe stun, critics of this blog — and perhaps supporters of it — by offering a word in defense of Vice President Mike Pence.

He is getting roasted, skewered, sliced and diced because he expresses admittedly blind loyalty to Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.

I am baffled a bit by the criticism. It’s as if his praise of the president has caught critics by surprise, that he shouldn’t be saying all those nice things about the guy who selected him to run on the Republican Party presidential ticket in 2016.

Let me stipulate, as if I need to do so: I detest the idea of Donald Trump serving as president. I cringe, too, when I hear Mike Pence speak so sickeningly about the president’s so-called accomplishments. I want Donald Trump removed from the office at the earliest possible opportunity. I also want Pence to hit the road right along with Trump.

Trump’s amorality is stunning in its scope. I am puzzled as well that Pence, a deeply religious man, even would have agreed to run alongside the slug who won the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

But he did agree to run as VP. The two of them won the election. Pence serves at the pleasure of the president. I am going to presume, therefore, that he likes being vice president and that he finds plenty to do to keep himself occupied during the day.

So I am left to ask: What do the Trump-Pence critics expect the vice president to do or say about the president? When has any vice president been openly contemptuous of the head of state, head of government and the commander in chief?

Perhaps the VP could dial back the tone and tenor of the praise he slathers all over the president. Do you remember how former Defense Secretary James Mattis praised the men and women who served under him, but didn’t offer a single word of praise for POTUS as he was announcing his resignation from the Pentagon?

Is that what Trump critics want from the vice president?

Let’s get real. It ain’t going to happen. The vice president took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, just as the president did. However, there is no way on Earth that the U.S. government’s No. 2 man is going to turn his fire on No. 1.

Mattis quits; so goes Trump’s last ‘best’ person

I am saddened but not shocked to hear the news that rocketed out of Washington, D.C. today. Defense Secretary James Mattis has resigned.

What is astonishing is the tone of the resignation letter Mattis sent to the president of the United States. He calls out the commander in chief for his failure to be more “resolute” in his approach to Russia and China. He also tears into the president for his treatment of our geopolitical allies and then declares that Trump has the right to have a defense secretary whose views “align” more with the president.

Mattis’s views do not, as the letter makes clear.

This is a serious blow to the defense of our nation. Mattis is a serious man, a retired Marine Corps four-star general, a man who has seen combat. He is a patriot, a warrior a student of foreign policy.

That this man would resign effective Feb. 28, just after the second year of the Trump administration, is stunning enough. That he would call out the commander in chief, who makes foreign and defense policy decisions on impulse and whim, is utterly breathtaking in its scope.

Read the letter here

One more takeaway from the letter: Mattis does not express gratitude for serving the president. He does express pride in serving the men and women in uniform and for serving the nation he loves.

Will any of this register in any tangible manner with the commander in chief? I wouldn’t bet my last dollar on it.

Hoping that Mattis stays put

This news is distressing in the extreme.

The one individual serving in the Donald J. Trump administration that I want to stay might be calling it a day. Defense Secretary James Mattis reportedly, allegedly, supposedly is on the bubble.

He might bail from the administration. It has been reported that the defense boss is unhappy with the commander in chief. Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” attributes some unkind remarks from the retired Marine Corps general about the president.

He has opposed Trump’s policy pronouncements, such as the one that bans transgender troops from serving in the military. Mattis also believes the U.S. pullout from the Paris climate accord is a mistake. And, as Woodward reported in “Fear,” Mattis had to explain to the president that the presence of 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea is intended to “prevent World War III.”

I will refrain from attaching the “Mad Dog” nickname to Mattis; he reportedly hates the term, so I won’t use it other than to refer to it.

Mattis is a grownup. He is a tested combat veteran who knows full well the consequences of war.

He is mature. He is reasonable. He is measured.

Mattis is precisely the kind of presence that Donald Trump needs close to him in times of crisis.

And, so what if James Mattis is “sort of a Democrat,” as Trump has said? Defense policy should be far removed from partisan politics.

Wyoming: stranger political climate than Texas?

CASPER, Wyo. — I love this state. It’s spacious, gorgeous and virtually uninhabited.

It’s the 10th-largest state in the union in terms of area; but it ranks No. 50 in terms of population, with about 580,000 residents scattered across 97,000 square miles.

It also has a single U.S. House of Representatives member representing it, along with two U.S. senators, Republicans John Barrasso and Mike Enzi.

And what about that member of Congress? She is Liz Cheney, who happens to be the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Here’s where the strangeness of Wyoming politics comes into play. Our friend Tom — a longtime journalist of some standing here — was showing us around Casper and he told me that Wyoming isn’t too keen on carpetbaggers, the politician who barely knows a region he or she wants to represent in government.

Why, then, did Wyoming elect Liz Cheney, who grew up in Washington, D.C., while her dad was serving in the Defense Department, Congress and as President Ford’s chief of staff before being elected VP in 2000?

Tom’s answer: “Because she has an ‘R’ next to her name and her dad happens to be the former vice president of the United States.”

I don’t have a particular problem with carpetbaggers. Indeed, my first political hero — the late Robert F. Kennedy — carried that title when he was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York in 1964. So did Hillary Rodham Clinton when she ran for RFK’s old seat in 2000 after serving eight years as first lady of the United States. Indeed, Mitt Romney — the former Massachusetts governor — is facing down the carpetbagger demon as he runs for the Senate in Utah.

I do find it cool, too, that a U.S. House member can represent the same constituency as two U.S. senators. Indeed, senators tend at times to lord it over House members that they represent entire states while their House colleagues have to settle for representing a measly House district.

Not so in Wyoming, where equality between the “upper” and “lower” congressional chambers is alive and well.

Get ready for Mattis vs. Bolton

Donald Trump’s national security team just cannot get its legs under it. It cannot function as a cohesive team that imparts advice to a president who is willing to (a) listen to it and (b) follow it.

With that we now have a new national security adviser, uber-super hawk John Bolton who quite likely will clash openly with Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

I’m going to pull for Mad Dog to win this fight, although Bolton now is the man of the hour, the guy who’s got the president’s ear.

Heaven help us if Bolton’s world view carries the day in the West Wing of the White House.

Bolton is known around the world as one with an itchy trigger finger. He favors pre-emptive military action against North Korea. Indeed, he has favored “putting boots on the ground” in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan … you name it, Bolton wants to flex U.S. military muscle.

He despises the nuclear arms deal worked out by the Obama administration that seeks to de-nuclearize Iran.

There’s Bolton’s profile in brief.

How about Mattis? He favors the Iran nuclear deal. He believes it is working and is worth retaining. And North Korea? Well, the retired Marine Corps general, a decorated combat veteran to boot, believes diplomacy should remain as Option No. 1 in our efforts to talk the reclusive Marxist regime out of striking at South Korea, or Japan — or the United States of America!

Mattis’s world view is forged by a career that has seen him serve up close in harm’s way. Bolton’s world view comes from a different perspective. He doesn’t have the kind of front-line military experience that Mattis does; Bolton served six years in the Maryland Army National Guard.

I want to bring this to your attention only to suggest that there might be yet another ideological storm brewing within the Trump White House.

As I have noted before, “Mad Dog” Mattis is one of the few grownups who have signed on to serve this president.

I do not believe John Bolton falls into that category of public servant.