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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

James Mattis

James Mattis
  • Secretary of Defense (2017-2018)
  • Hoover Institution: Visiting Fellow
  • U.S. Marine Corps: Retired General

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James “Mad Dog” Mattis is a retired U.S Marine Corps general who served as secretary of defense in the Donald Trump administration from the beginning of Trump’s administration until the end of 2018. Previously, Mattis was commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from 2010-2013 before being removed by President Barack Obama reportedly due to differences over Iran policy.[1] Mattis subsequently served on the board of directors of military contractor General Dynamics and has been a visiting scholar at the conservative Hoover Institution.

Mattis is known for his penchant for making rash comments about killing people, like saying “It’s fun to shoot some people,” and having a brash leadership style.[2] According to a 2016 New Yorker profile: “In battle, Mattis’ boldness had earned him the nickname ‘Mad Dog,’ and when he commanded the Marines’ 1st Division during the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, his radio call sign was ‘Chaos.’”[3]

When Trump announced his decision to nominate Mattis in December 2016 he said that the retired general was “the closest thing we have to Gen. George Patton.” Despite having policy differences with Trump and other administration figures like National Security Advisor John Bolton—including over the use of torture, which Mattis believes is ineffective[4]—Mattis reportedly appealed to Trump initially because of “his insistence that Iran is the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East, as well as his acerbic criticism of the Obama administration.”[5]

Yet by the time he left the Trump administration, Mattis—like many high-level Trump administration officials before him—had become a target for Trump’s anger. At a cabinet meeting observed by journalists, Trump was reported to have asked, “What’s he done for me?” and then specifically criticized Mattis on Afghanistan, suggesting U.S. military policy was “not too good” under his command. “I’m not happy with what he’s done in Afghanistan,” Trump said. “As you know, President Obama fired him and essentially so did I.”[6]

Trump did not fire Mattis. He was, in fact, the first cabinet official since former secretary of state Cyrus Vance in 1980 to resign in protest of a policy decision. It was not the first time Trump had tried to cover up Mattis’ protest with a misleading assertion; he had initially announced that Mattis was simply “retiring.”[7]

But Mattis publicized his letter of resignation so the public would know his reasons, which came in the wake of Trump’s spontaneous decision—reportedly made with no consultation with his advisers or the leaders of allies and partners in the operations—to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria and cut in half the U.S. force in Afghanistan. Mattis said in his resignation letter, “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.” He also pointedly omitted any mention of having taken any pleasure or honor from serving with Trump, something which would usually be in such a statement.[8]

Disagreements With Trump

Despite his strong misgivings about rapprochement with Iran, Mattis emerged early on as a key champion within the Trump administration for the nuclear deal with Iran, known by its acronym the JCPOA. Mattis made it clear before taking office that he believed the United States should stick to the deal.

“I want to make clear there’s no going back. Absent a clear and present violation [by Iran], I don’t think we can take advantage of some new president—Republican or Democrat—and say, ‘well, we’re not going to live up to our word in this agreement.’ I believe we’d be alone if we did, and unilateral economic sanctions from us would not have anywhere near the impact of an allied approach to this,” Mattis was reported to have said, before he became secretary of defense.[9]

He reiterated this point during Senate testimony in late 2017 just before President Trump declined to certify that Iran was in compliance with the deal, despite the absence of evidence that Iran was not complying with its commitments. “If we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly we should stay with it. I believe at this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something that the president should consider staying with,” Mattis testified.[10]

Shortly after the April 2018 U.S.-led missile strike on Syria in the aftermath of an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, it was reported that Mattis—already identified[11] as a voice for either a limited, targeted attack on Syrian government facilities or a delay in attacking altogether until more evidence could be gathered—had argued that President Trump should seek congressional approval before attacking Syria.[12]

According to the account in Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump presidency, Fear, Mattis directly thwarted an attack Trump wished to carry out with the goal of assassinating Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. According to the account in the Washington Post, “After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. ‘Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,’ Trump said, according to Woodward.

“Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: ‘We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.’ The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.” Woodward also related that after a national security meeting in January 2018, “Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like—and had the understanding of—‘a fifth- or sixth-grader.’ ”[13] Mattis denied the account in Woodward’s book, although he did not reference the alleged assassination idea. “The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence,” Mattis said in a statement.[14]

Other Trump cabinet members—including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster—were sacked for urging policies contrary to those the president preferred, but Mattis’ position remained relatively stable. Some observers speculated that by generally shunning the spotlight, Mattis may have found a way to survive much longer than most in the Trump administration.[15]

According to the Washington Post, “In his first year in the Pentagon, Mattis has been one of the least visible and most consequential members of Trump’s foreign policy team. In Situation Room meetings, he has established himself as a commanding voice, reining in discussions before they devolve into chaos. State Department ambassadors say they have spent more face-to-face time with him than they have their own boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.”[16]

Speculating on how Mattis managed to survive longer than most of his colleagues in Trump’s cabinet, one journalist wrote, “Whatever tough talk Mattis dispenses to the president is measured and intentional. People close to him say he spends a lot of time thinking about how to communicate effectively, that he is always aware of his audience and that he often asks aides for a pithy quote to drive home a point. Friends and former colleagues say he was well aware of the position in which he entered the administration, uniquely admired by the news media. In contrast with his close friend and White House colleague John Kelly, he has been careful not to tarnish his reputation with inaccurate or ill-advised comments to the news media. He has steered clear of high-profile interviews and avoided making the sorts of off-the-record remarks that have, in some cases, cost his colleagues their jobs.” The same journalist quotes military historian Mark Perry, saying, “You won’t ever hear Mattis quoted off the record saying Trump is dumb or an idiot—he’s careful,” and concludes, “His survival in the administration may depend on it.”[17]

Mattis also had several influential supporters outside the administration, including the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who pressed Trump to nominate either Mattis or retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, a colleague of several neoconservative activists.[18] Other notable Mattis boosters have included neoconservative figures like William Kristol who, along with a host of GOP donors and strategists, unsuccessfully tried to persuade Mattis to run for president as an independent if Trump won the nomination.[19]

Mattis had fallen out of favor well before he finally quit. Many decisions were being made without him, and he would find out about major events after the fact. For example, in May 2018, Mattis learned from a colleague that Trump intended to finally and fully withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal. His objections to that action were well known, and he tried to voice them before an announcement was made, but to no avail. A month later, Trump told Mattis that he had, also on the spur of the moment, committed to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to pause joint U.S.-South Korea military maneuvers without consulting his secretary of defense. Trump’s announcement that the United States would create a new military division—a “space force”—also took Mattis by surprise.

All of this fueled speculation that Mattis was soon to depart the administration. NBC News relayed that “The president has cooled on Mattis, in part because he’s come to believe his defense secretary looks down on him and slow-walks his policy directives, according to current and former administration officials. The dynamic was exacerbated with Trump’s announcement in March that he had chosen John Bolton as national security adviser, a move Mattis opposed, and Mike Pompeo’s confirmation as secretary of state soon after. The president is now more inclined to rely on his own instincts or the advice of Pompeo and Bolton, three people familiar with the matter said.”[20]

In October 2018, Trump said of Mattis on CBS’ 60 Minutes, “I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”[21] Referring to Mattis as a “Democrat” was seen as a strong implication of distaste from Trump.

While many saw Mattis’ departure as a cause for concern—fearing that one of the last restraints on Trump was now gone—former CIA analyst Paul Pillar was less concerned. “Mattis is a distinguished public servant and an uncommonly knowledgeable warrior,” opined Pillar. “Although he has his obsessions, at important moments he has tempered them with judgment. But no senior official is indispensable. If Mattis seems to be, it is only because the ‘adult in the room’ meme has been invoked exceptionally often in his case.”[22]

Worldview: Neocon or Military Industrial Complex?

According to one observer, Mattis is “less of a neocon than some of these other people, but he definitely believes in the iron fist of U.S. militarism. He definitely would be one of the more sophisticated military figures that Trump is speaking to.”[23] The New Yorker profile noted that Mattis seemed to be “intently focused on stability, wary of warfare that sought to promote democracy or idealism, sentimental about the independence of the Baltic states, firmly committed to NATO, and unsentimental about Russia.”

Other commentators focused attention on Mattis’ experience working at General Dynamics, one of the largest Pentagon contractors. “For the military-industrial-congressional complex it doesn’t get much better than this,” wrote a commentator in the foreign policy blog Lobelog.[24] According to the International Business Times, Mattis was selected as an “independent director” of General Dynamics in 2013, had been paid $594,369 as of 2016, and had “amassed more than $900,000 worth of company stock.” It reported that “while on the General Dynamics board, Mattis testified before Congress, where he called caps on defense spending—known as the sequestration—a national security threat. ‘No foe in the field can wreak such havoc on our security that mindless sequestration is achieving,’ he said during the 2015 hearing.”[25]

These factors all may have combined to keep Mattis relatively secure in his position for two years. Another factor may be that since Mattis was widely perceived as a restraining force on Trump’s excesses, the media across the spectrum may have been reluctant to portray him in a negative light. Matthew Yglesias reported that “Mattis is implicated in one of the largest business scandals of the past decades, described by the Securities and Exchange Commission as an ‘elaborate, years-long fraud’ through which Theranos, led by CEO Elizabeth Holmes and president Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani, ‘exaggerated or made false statements about the company’s technology, business, and financial performance.’” Yet, Yglesiasconcludes, “The Theranos thing is a bad look, but there are plenty of Trump Cabinet corruption scandals to talk about—the Ben Carson one is the funniest—so it’s not like Democrats are lacking for general partisan ammunition. If Mattis comes under pressure, he might quit or get fired, and who knows who Trump might tap to replace him. Under the circumstances, a softball approach to Mattis seems warranted no matter how rotten the signal that sends to the rest of the military, the business community, and the public about the wisdom of getting mixed up in fraudulent endeavors.”[26]

On North Korea

Mattis took a hard line on North Korea, echoing the extremely antagonist posture of his boss President Trump. As Pyongyang and Washington exchanged increasingly dire threats in early August 2017, which included a warning from Trump that North Korea was facing “fire and fury” from the United States, Mattis issued an ultimatum to the country. He warned North Korea to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.” He added that “The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons” and that the “regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”[27]

Previously, Mattis had attempted to downplay the possibility of confrontation with North Korea. After North Korea’s successful long-range missile test in July 2017, Mattis said: “I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war because the president’s been very clear, the secretary of State’s been very clear, that we are leading with diplomatic and economic efforts.”[28]

Yet as tensions rose in early 2018 between the United States and North Korea, Mattis repeatedly stressed that diplomacy was the key to resolving the crisis. “Diplomacy should (impose) reason on Kim’s reckless rhetoric and dangerous provocations,” Mattis said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He continued by saying any initiative should be “diplomacy led, backed up with military options available to ensure that our diplomats are understood to be speaking from a position of strength.”[29]

On Iran

Mattis pressed an aggressive stance on Iran. In April 2017, Mattis was one of several administration figures who complained about the country’s “destabilizing” influence. Pointing to Tehran’s role in Yemen’s conflict, Mattis said: “We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it.”[30] The comments were made at the same time that Trump announced a review of the Iran nuclear deal and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson complained about “alarming ongoing provocations” by Iran, which he said has “the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it.”[31]

Mattis has been an outspoken Iran hawk for many years. He has argued that the country has declared war on the United States and reportedly thinks “that Iran’s support for Shia militias in Iraq meant that Tehran was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops.”[32] In a little-noticed speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in April 2016, Mattis said that Iran was the “single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East”[33] and “a revolutionary cause devoted to mayhem.”[34]

On the other hand, although he is highly critical of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—which limits the country’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief—Mattis has opposed backing out of the agreement, something numerous other Trump cabinet appointees had called for, including Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. At the CSIS event he said, “I want to make clear there’s no going back. Absent a clear and present violation [by Iran], I don’t think we can take advantage of some new president—Republican or Democrat—and say, ‘well, we’re not going to live up to our word in this agreement.’ I believe we’d be alone if we did, and unilateral economic sanctions from us would not have anywhere near the impact of an allied approach to this.”[35]

Mattis reaffirmed his belief that the U.S. must adhere to the Iran agreement during his nomination hearings in January 2017, arguing that it is critical to regional security.

Yet Mattis has also puzzlingly suggested that Iran may somehow be collaborating with ISIS, stating at CSIS: “I consider ISIS nothing more than an excuse for Iran to continue its mischief [in the region]. Iran is not an enemy of ISIS; they have a lot to gain from the turmoil that ISIS creates. I would just point out one question for you to look into: What is the one country in the Middle East that has not been attacked by ISIS? One. That is Iran. That is more than happenstance, I’m sure.”

One analyst concludes,[36] “Although Mattis likely wouldn’t oppose a confrontation with Iran, he hasn’t openly called for one, either, and even hinted at an openness to engaging with ‘Iranian generals’ when he was at CENTCOM. In short, though he’s an ‘Iran hawk,’ Mattis doesn’t seem to be particularly out of the mainstream in the U.S. foreign policy community, at least not when compared to people like Flynn and Pompeo.”

Steve Coll wrote in the New Yorker that during his 2011 conversations with Mattis “he never heard him itching for another Middle Eastern war or talking up the benefits of bombing Iran preemptively.” He added: “It is common to observe, based on congressional testimony and other public comments he has made, that Mattis has taken a hard line toward Iran, particularly the activities of the Revolutionary Guards and other allied or expeditionary Iranian militant units in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. During our discussions, Mattis made a few comments along those lines. But mainly he seemed focused on deepening America’s long-standing military and political alliances with Sunni Arab states—Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. During his time at Central Command, he spent many hours talking to counterparts in those countries, which tend to view Shia revolutionary Iran as a serious threat. The smaller, militarily weaker Sunni states closest to Iran—such as the U.A.E.—were and remain acutely anxious that the United States might sell out their security in some Nixon-to-China grand bargain with Tehran.”[37]

On the other hand, some writers have expressed concern about Mattis’ take on Iran. “Mattis has a thing about Iran that appears to let passion shove the erudition aside whenever Iran is involved,” noted former CIA analyst Paul Pillar. “Mark Perry may be right that the passion is a Marine Corps thing and stems from the truck bombing, by Iran’s client Lebanese Hezbollah, of the barracks in Beirut in 1983 in which 220 Marines and 21 other Americans died.[38] Perry quotes another senior Marine officer as saying about Mattis, ‘It’s in his blood. It’s almost like he wants to get even with them.’”[39]

On Iraq

Although he did not speak out publicly against the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Mattis said at a 2015 conference that “we will probably look back on the invasion of Iraq as a mistake—as a strategic mistake.”[40]

At the time of the invasion, he said: “I think people were pretty much aware that the U.S. military didn’t think it was a very wise idea. But we give a cheery ‘Aye aye, sir.’ Because when you elect someone commander in chief—we give our advice. We generally give it in private.”[41] Notably, Mattis did not heed this same protocol with respect to the Obama administration and Iran, “speaking openly or critically about the Iran deal and questioning some of the Obama administration’s motives,” which ultimately led to his dismissal from Central Command.[42]

In 2006, Mattis coauthored with Gen. David Petraeus a U.S. Army field manual on counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy, which had an important impact on military strategy in Iraq and has been lauded by neoconservatives and “liberal hawks.” “In a multipolar world where small wars proliferate, there is reason to believe that [COIN] doctrine will shape not only the next phase of the fights in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the future of the U.S. military,” said John Nagl, a former Army officer who contributed to the COIN manual before heading the Center for a New American Security.[43]

Wrote Daniel Luban in a 2009 analysis for Right Web: “Although advocates portray COIN as a purely pragmatic and non-ideological response to the security challenges of the twenty-first century, critics charge that its focus on ‘small wars’ and nation-building simply assumes that the main goal of the U.S. military should be subduing local populations of far-flung but strategically important countries. In that respect, they argue, COIN can serve as a smokescreen for maintaining a U.S. imperial posture.”[44]

“Great powers wage ‘small wars’ not to defend themselves but to assert control over foreign populations,” wrote Andrew Bacevich in his 2008 book The Limits of Power. “Historically, that is, ‘small wars’ are imperial wars. … [T]o assume that wars like Iraq define the military’s future evades a larger question. Given what the pursuit of American imperial ambitions in the Greater Middle East has actually produced … why would the United States persist in such a strategy? Instead of changing the military, why not change the policy?” [45]

On Israel

Despite the backing of some leading neoconservatives, Mattis has been critical of Israel and U.S. relations with the country. He has argued that Israeli settlement policy eventually leads to apartheid: “If I’m in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote—apartheid.”[46]

As for the negative impact of one-sided U.S. support for the country, he said in 2013: “I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians.”[47]

Observers point out that these views are at odds with those expressed by Trump, even if the real estate mogul has expressed doubts about Israel’s commitment to seeking peace with the Palestinians.[48]

In February 2018, after Israel shot down an Iranian drone that had crossed its border and bombed Iranian positions in Syria, Mattis, abandoning his usual reserve on current events, said that “Israel has an absolute right to defend themselves. They don’t have to wait until their citizens are dying under attack before they actually address that issue.”[49]

On Russia

Mattis appears to differ sharply with Trump over Russia, although the two have reportedly discussed ways to improve up relations. While Trump is a vocal admirer of Vladimir Putin, Mattis has argued that Russia’s aggressive militarism is “much more severe, more serious” than both Brussels and Washington seem to think.[50]

According to a report of a 2015 event at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Mattis warned that the “nationalist emotions that Russian President Vladimir Putin has stirred up will make it ‘very, very hard [for him or his successors] to pull back from some of the statements he has made’ about the West. At the same time, Putin faces problems of his own with jihadists inside Russia’s borders that threaten domestic stability. But Putin also demonstrated Russia’s nuclear capability with long-range bomber flights near NATO countries. His intent is ‘to break NATO apart.’”[51]

 

SOURCES

[1] Yochi Dreazen, “Meet Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Trump’s Iran hawk choice for secretary of defense,” Vox, December 1, 2016, http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/1/13718282/pentagon-jim-mad-dog-mattis-trump-iran-hawk-russia-secretary-of-defense-general

[2] Madeline Conway, “9 unforgettable quotes by James Mattis,” Politico, December 1, 2016, https://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/12/james-mattis-quotes-232097

[3] Steve Coll, “Travelling with James Mattis, Donald Trump’s Pick for Secretary of Defense,” The New Yorker, December 2, 2016, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/travelling-with-james-mattis-donald-trumps-pick-for-secretary-of-defense

[4] “Donald Trump’s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript,” New York Times, November 23, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/politics/trump-new-york-times-interview-transcript.html

[5] Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “James Mattis, Outspoken Retired Marine, Is Trump’s Choice as Defense Secretary,” New York Times, December 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/us/politics/james-mattis-secrtary-of-defense-trump.html

[6] John Fritze and David Jackson, “’What’s he done for me?’: President Donald Trump slams former Secretary of Defense James Mattis,” USA Today, January 2, 2019, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/02/donald-trump-slams-james-mattis/2464343002/

[7] Chrystal Hayes, “Read Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation letter,” USA Today, December 20, 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/20/james-mattis-read-resignation-letter-president-trump/2381698002/

[8] “READ: James Mattis’ resignation letter,” CNN, December 21, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/20/politics/james-mattis-resignation-letter-doc/index.html

[9] Jim Lobe, “Mattis On Iran: Belligerent, But Don’t Tear Up Nuclear Deal,” Lobelog, November 25, 2016, https://lobelog.com/mattis-on-iran-belligerent-but-dont-tear-up-nuclear-deal/

[10] Eli Clifton, “Mattis: JCPOA Is In U.S. National Security Interest,” Lobelog, October 3, 2017, https://lobelog.com/mattis-iran-deal-jcpoa-is-in-u-s-national-security-interest/

[11] Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Peter Baker, “Mattis Tries to Put Brakes on Possible Syria Strike, to ‘Keep This From Escalating,’” New York Times, April 12, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/us/politics/trump-syria-attack.html

[12] Sophie Tatum, “NYT: Trump and Mattis disagreed over congressional approval for Syria strike,” CNN, April 18, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/17/politics/trump-mattis-syria-strike/index.html

[13] Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, “Bob Woodward’s new book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency,” Washington Post, September 4, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bob-woodwards-new-book-reveals-a-nervous-breakdown-of-trumps-presidency/2018/09/04/b27a389e-ac60-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?utm_term=.ed939826f0f0

[14] Lydia O’Connor, “James Mattis Reportedly Ignored Trump’s Order To ‘F**king Kill’ Bashar Assad,” Huffington Post, September 4, 2018, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/james-mattis-trump-kill-assad_us_5b8edbe4e4b0511db3dcea50

[15] Krishnadev Calamur, “James Mattis Has Somehow Stayed on Trump’s Good Side,” The Atlantic, March 13, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/03/mattis-trump/555518/

[16] Greg jaffe and Missy Ryan, “Trump’s favorite general: Can Mattis check an impulsive president and still retain his trust?” Washington Post, February 7, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/can-jim-mattis-check-an-impulsive-president-and-still-retain-his-trust/2018/02/07/289297a2-0814-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html?utm_term=.0617a7e0dfab

[17] Eliana Johnson, “Why Trump Hasn’t Fired Mattis,” Politico, March 23, 2018, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/03/23/james-mattis-defense-secretary-how-to-succeed-in-trump-cabinet-without-getting-fired-217699

[18] Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “James Mattis, Outspoken Retired Marine, Is Trump’s Choice as Defense Secretary,” New York Times, December 1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/us/politics/james-mattis-secrtary-of-defense-trump.html

[19] Tim Mak, “The Secret Movement to Draft General James Mattis for President,” Daily Beast, April 8, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/08/the-secret-movement-to-draft-general-james-mattis-for-president.html

[20] Courtney Kube and Carol E. Lee, “Mattis is out of the loop and Trump doesn’t listen to him, say officials,” NBC News, June 25, 2018, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/mattis-out-loop-trump-doesn-t-listen-him-say-officials-n885796

[21] Eli Watkins and Barbara Starr, “Trump: Mattis is ‘sort of a Democrat,’ ‘don’t know’ if he plans to leave admin,” CNN, October 14, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/14/politics/donald-trump-james-mattis/index.html

[22] Paul Pillar, “Mattis Resigns: Sky Will Not Fall,” Lobelog, December 21, 2018, https://lobelog.com/mattis-resigns-sky-will-not-fall/

[23] Democracy Now, “Neocons, War Criminals & White Nationalists: Jeremy Scahill on Trump’s Incoming Advisers & Cabinet,” November 2016, https://www.democracynow.org/2016/11/21/neocons_war_criminals_white_nationalists_jeremy

[24] David Isenberg, “Mattis And The Revolving Door,” Lobelog, December 13, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mattis-and-the-revolving-door/

[25] Avi Asher-Schapiro AND David Sirota, “Donald Trump Pentagon Pick Mattis Made Nearly $1,000,000 On Board Of Defense Contractor,” International Business Times, December 2, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/donald-trump-pentagon-pick-mattis-made-nearly-1000000-board-defense-contractor

[26] Matthew Yglesias, “James Mattis is linked to a massive corporate fraud and nobody wants to talk about it,” Vox, March 16, 2018, https://www.vox.com/2018/3/16/17124288/mattis-theranos-board-trump

[27] Zachary Cohen and Barbara Starr, “Mattis to North Korea: Stop actions that could lead to ‘destruction of its people,’” CNN, August 10, 2017, https://edition.cnn.com/2017/08/09/politics/mattis-pentagon-north-korea/index.html

[28] Ellen Mitchell, “Mattis: North Korean launch doesn’t bring US ‘closer to war,’” The Hill, July 6, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/340885-mattis-north-korea-launch-brings-us-no-closer-to-war

[29] “Mattis: Diplomacy should impose reason on North Korea’s Kim Jong Un,” Reuters, January 26, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/26/mattis-diplomacy-should-impose-reason-on-north-koreas-kim-jong-un.html

[30] Ellen Mitchell, “Mattis: US must overcome destabilizing Iranian influence in Yemen,” The Hill, April 19, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/329583-mattis-us-must-overcome-destabilizing-iranian-influence-in-yemen

[31] Barbara Plett Usher, “US accuses Iran of ‘alarming provocations’ amid nuclear tensions,” BBC News, April 20, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39649683

[32] Yochi Dreazen, “Meet Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Trump’s Iran hawk choice for secretary of defense,” Vox, December 1, 2016, http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/1/13718282/pentagon-jim-mad-dog-mattis-trump-iran-hawk-russia-secretary-of-defense-general

[33] James N. Mattis, “The Middle East at an Inflection Point with Gen. Mattis,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 22, 2016, https://www.csis.org/events/middle-east-inflection-point-gen-mattis

[34] Jim Lobe, “Mattis on Iran: Belligerent, but Don’t Tear Up Nuclear Deal,” Lobelog, November 25, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mattis-on-iran-belligerent-but-dont-tear-up-nuclear-deal/

[35] Jim Lobe, “Mattis on Iran: Belligerent, but Don’t Tear Up Nuclear Deal,” Lobelog, November 25, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mattis-on-iran-belligerent-but-dont-tear-up-nuclear-deal/

[36] Derek Davison, “’Mad Dog’ Mattis: Trump’s Least Belligerent Foreign Policy Advisor?” Lobelog, December 2, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mad-dog-mattis-trumps-least-belligerent-foreign-policy-advisor/

[37] Steve Coll, “Travelling with James Mattis, Donald Trump’s Pick for Secretary of Defense,” The New Yorker, December 2, 2016, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/travelling-with-james-mattis-donald-trumps-pick-for-secretary-of-defense

[38] Mark Perry, “James Mattis’ 33-Year Grudge Against Iran,” Politico, December 4, 2016, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/james-mattis-iran-secretary-of-defense-214500

[39] Paul Pillar, “Will The Trump Administration Start A War With Iran?” Lobelog, December 7, 2016, http://lobelog.com/will-the-trump-administration-start-a-war-with-iran/

[40] Mattathias Schwartz, “Iraq Was Probably A “Mistake,” Said Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s Defense Pick, The Intercept, December 5, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/12/05/iraq-was-a-mistake-said-gen-james-mattis-trumps-defense-pick/

[41] Mattathias Schwartz, “Iraq Was Probably A “Mistake,” Said Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s Defense Pick, The Intercept, December 5, 2016, https://theintercept.com/2016/12/05/iraq-was-a-mistake-said-gen-james-mattis-trumps-defense-pick/

[42] Democracy Now, “Neocons, War Criminals & White Nationalists: Jeremy Scahill on Trump’s Incoming Advisers & Cabinet,” November 2016, https://www.democracynow.org/2016/11/21/neocons_war_criminals_white_nationalists_jeremy

[43] Daniel Luban, “Neocons and Liberal Hawks Converge on Counterinsurgency,” Right Web, April 15, 2009, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/neocons_and_liberal_hawks_converge_on_counterinsurgency/

[44] Daniel Luban, “Neocons and Liberal Hawks Converge on Counterinsurgency,” Right Web, April 15, 2009, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/neocons_and_liberal_hawks_converge_on_counterinsurgency/

[45] Daniel Luban, “Neocons and Liberal Hawks Converge on Counterinsurgency,” Right Web, April 15, 2009, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/neocons_and_liberal_hawks_converge_on_counterinsurgency/

[46] JTA, “James Mattis, Trump’s Reported Pick for Defense Post, Sees Israel Turning Into Apartheid State,” Haaretz, December 1, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.754253.

[47] JTA, “James Mattis, Trump’s Reported Pick for Defense Post, Sees Israel Turning Into Apartheid State,” Haaretz, December 1, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.754253.

[48] Paul Pillar, “What Trump Uncovers,” LobeLog, December 6, 2015, https://lobelog.com/what-trump-uncovers/.

[49] Amir Tibon, “U.S. Secretary of Defense: Israel Has ‘Absolute Right to Defend Itself’ From Iran,” Haaretz, February 12, 2018, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-u-s-secretary-of-defense-israel-has-right-to-defend-from-iran-1.5809203

[50] Derek Davison, “Mad Dog” Mattis: Trump’s Least Belligerent Foreign Policy Advisor? Lobelog, December 2, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mad-dog-mattis-trumps-least-belligerent-foreign-policy-advisor/

[51] John Grady, “Mattis: U.S. Suffering ‘Strategic Atrophy,’” USNI News, May 14, 2015, https://news.usni.org/2015/05/14/mattis-u-s-suffering-strategic-atrophy

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James Mattis Résumé

Affiliations

  • Hoover Institution: Visiting Fellow

Government

  • Secretary of Defense (2017-2018)
  • U.S: Central Command: Director (2010 – 2013)
  • U.S. Marine Corps: Retired General

Business

  • General Dynamics: Independent Director
  • Theranos: Board of Directors (2013-2016)

Education

  • Central Washington University

Related:

James Mattis News Feed

The Trials of Patrick Shanahan - Foreign PolicyMattis aide promises tell-all book about the former defense secretary's time with Trump - Military TimesDonald Trump Inadvertently Killed the Pentagon Press Briefing. Here's How That Hurts the Public - TIMETrump again overrules top brass - POLITICOMattis returning to Stanford months after Pentagon resignation | TheHill - The HillPatrick Shanahan’s Endless Limbo - The AtlanticThe Pentagon's Watchdog Is Investigating Whether the Acting Defense Secretary Boosted Boeing - TIMENaval Academy will enforce Pentagon’s transgender ban - CapitalGazette.comTrump’s decision on Pentagon chief nomination to await conclusion of ethics probe - The Washington PostShanahan's nomination to head Pentagon on ice - POLITICOTransgender military ban: Trump administration ban on transgender troops goes into effect - CBS NewsHigh-ranking DHS official departs for post as Pentagon's chief spokesperson - ABC NewsShanahan’s Bid for Top Pentagon Job on Hold - Foreign PolicyTrump's transgender military ban now in effect - Washington BladePentagon crafts options to counter Russian and Chinese influence in Venezuela - PoliticoTrump Is Expanding America's Wars, Not Ending Them - Foreign Policy In FocusPentagon’s revised transgender military policy goes into effect - WQAD MolinePOLITICO Playbook: Bernie's viral Fox moment, plus: Is Trump bored? - POLITICOPentagon IG investigation renews scrutiny of Shanahan’s ties to Boeing - WTVR CBS 6 NewsWhy Jim Mattis' Resignation Has Military Leaders and Allies Rattled - TIME

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