Right Web

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

James Mattis

Secretary of Defense
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 serves as secretary of defense in the Donald Trumpadministration. Previously, Mattis was commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) during 2010-2013 before being removed by the Obama administration reportedly because of differences over Iran policy.[1]Mattis recently served on the board of directors of military contractor General Dynamics and has been a visiting scholar at the conservativeHoover 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 initially appealed to Trump 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]

Disagreements With Trump

Despite his strong misgivings about rapprochement with Iran, Mattis has emerged 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.[6]

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.[7]

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[8]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.[9]

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 has remained relatively stable. Some observers have speculated that by generally shunning the spotlight, Mattis may have found a way to survive in the Trump administration.[10]

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.”[11]

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.”[12]

Mattis also has several influential supporters outside the administration, including Sen. John McCain(R-AZ), who pressed Trump to nominate either Mattis or retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, a colleague of several neoconservative activists.[13]Other notable Mattis boosters have included neoconservative figures like William Kristolwho, 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.[14]

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.”[15]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 have 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.[16]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.”[17]

These factors all may have combined to keep Mattis relatively secure in his position. Another factor may be that since Mattis is 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, Yglesias concludes, “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.”[18]

On North Korea

Mattis has taken 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.”[19]

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.”[20]

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.”[21]

On Iran

Mattis has 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.”[22]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.”[23]

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.”[24]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”[25]and “a revolutionary cause devoted to mayhem.”[26]

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 Flynnand 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.”[27]

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,[28]“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.”[29]

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. 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.[30] 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.’”[31]

On Iraq

Although he did not speak out publicly against the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, Mattis saidat a 2015 conference that “we will probably look back on the invasion of Iraq as a mistake—as a strategic mistake.”[32]

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.”[33]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.[34]

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,” saidJohn Nagl, a former Army officer who contributed to the COIN manual before heading the Center for a New American Security.[35]

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.”[36]

“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?” [37]

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.”[38]

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.”[39]

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.[40]

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.”[41]

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.[42]

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.’”[43]



[1]Yochi Dreazen, “MeetJim“MadDog” Mattis, Trump’sIranhawkchoiceforsecretaryofdefense,” Vox, December1, 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, “JamesMattis, OutspokenRetiredMarine, IsTrump’sChoiceasDefenseSecretary,” New York Times, December1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/us/politics/james-mattis-secrtary-of-defense-trump.html

[6]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/

[7]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/

[8]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

[9]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

[10]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/

[11]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

[12]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

[13]Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, “JamesMattis, OutspokenRetiredMarine, IsTrump’sChoiceasDefenseSecretary,” New York Times, December1, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/us/politics/james-mattis-secrtary-of-defense-trump.html

[14]Tim Mak, “TheSecretMovementtoDraftGeneralJamesMattisforPresident,” DailyBeast,April8, 2016, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/08/the-secret-movement-to-draft-general-james-mattis-for-president.html

[15]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

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

[17]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

[18]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

[19]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

[20]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

[21]“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

[22]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

[23]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

[24]Yochi Dreazen, “MeetJim“MadDog” Mattis, Trump’sIranhawkchoiceforsecretaryofdefense,” Vox, December1, 2016, http://www.vox.com/world/2016/12/1/13718282/pentagon-jim-mad-dog-mattis-trump-iran-hawk-russia-secretary-of-defense-general

[25]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

[26]JimLobe, “MattisonIran: Belligerent, butDon’tTearUpNuclearDeal,” Lobelog, November25, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mattis-on-iran-belligerent-but-dont-tear-up-nuclear-deal/

[27]JimLobe, “MattisonIran: Belligerent, butDon’tTearUpNuclearDeal,” Lobelog, November25, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mattis-on-iran-belligerent-but-dont-tear-up-nuclear-deal/

[28]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/

[29]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

[30]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

[31]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/

[32]MattathiasSchwartz, “IraqWasProbablyA“Mistake,” SaidGen. JamesMattis, Trump’sDefensePick, TheIntercept, December5, 2016,https://theintercept.com/2016/12/05/iraq-was-a-mistake-said-gen-james-mattis-trumps-defense-pick/

[33]MattathiasSchwartz, “IraqWasProbablyA“Mistake,” SaidGen. JamesMattis, Trump’sDefensePick, TheIntercept, December5, 2016,https://theintercept.com/2016/12/05/iraq-was-a-mistake-said-gen-james-mattis-trumps-defense-pick/

[34]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

[35]DanielLuban, “NeoconsandLiberalHawksConvergeonCounterinsurgency,” RightWeb, April15, 2009, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/neocons_and_liberal_hawks_converge_on_counterinsurgency/

[36]DanielLuban, “NeoconsandLiberalHawksConvergeonCounterinsurgency,” RightWeb, April15, 2009, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/neocons_and_liberal_hawks_converge_on_counterinsurgency/

[37]DanielLuban, “NeoconsandLiberalHawksConvergeonCounterinsurgency,” RightWeb, April15, 2009, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/neocons_and_liberal_hawks_converge_on_counterinsurgency/

[38]JTA, “JamesMattis, Trump’sReportedPickforDefensePost, SeesIsraelTurningIntoApartheidState,” Haaretz, December1, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.754253.

[39]JTA, “JamesMattis, Trump’sReportedPickforDefensePost, SeesIsraelTurningIntoApartheidState,” Haaretz, December1, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.754253.

[40]PaulPillar, “WhatTrumpUncovers,” LobeLog, December6, 2015, https://lobelog.com/what-trump-uncovers/.

[41]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

[42]DerekDavison, “MadDog” Mattis: Trump’sLeastBelligerentForeignPolicyAdvisor? Lobelog, December2, 2016, http://lobelog.com/mad-dog-mattis-trumps-least-belligerent-foreign-policy-advisor/

[43]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


  • Hoover Institution: Visiting Fellow


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


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


  • Central Washington University


James Mattis News Feed

The Year Ahead: Trump throws uncertainty into Pentagon budget | TheHill - The HillJames Mattis last Donald Trump general standing - Washington TimesTrump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to $750B: reports | TheHill - The HillJames Mattis pressed on Pentagon budget cuts - Washington TimesMilitary troops to remain at border through January, says Defense Secretary James Mattis - USA TODAYTrump meets with Mattis and Republican lawmakers amid fears of defense budget cut - CNNRough going for those picked by Trump to be 'my generals' - NBC NewsDespite Tweet, Trump Hasn't Ordered US Troops To Build His Border Wall Yet - Task & PurposeFor U.S. allies, Jim 'Mad Dog' Mattis is the last adult in the room - Chicago TribuneMattis heads to US-Mexico border to visit troops awaiting migrant caravan - CNBCMattis 'Optimistic' Pentagon Will Get Needed Budget from White House, Democrats - Defense OnePentagon stuck with bill for ballooning border mission - POLITICOTrump Doubles Down: Trans People Can Serve in Military, If They Don't Transition - The Daily BeastMattis reportedly rejected Trump's requests for armed troops to stop migrants in the latest spat between the president and his Pentagon - INSIDEROvernight Defense: Senate Armed Services chair eyes Russia, China threats | Pushes Trump not to cut defense budget | Mattis says US looking for more Khashoggi evidence | TheHill - The HillTrump Hedges on $5 Billion for Border Wall on Day of Meeting With Schumer, Pelosi - Roll Call Trump Officially Nominates Army Gen. Mark Milley As The Next Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff - Task & PurposePentagon Began Clampdown on Senior Leaders' Public Speaking Months Ago, Memos Reveal - Defense OneWho is Mira Ricardel and why did Melania Trump want her fired? - CNNU.S. Troops at the border: White House directs Pentagon to let troops use force when necessary at border - CBS News

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Featured Profiles

The millionaire pastor of the Cornerstone Church in Texas, John Hagee argues that U.S. support for Israel will play a “a pivotal role in the second coming” of Jesus. He has also risen to new prominence during the Trump administration.

Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian who served as a chief aide and speechwriter in the George W. Bush White House, is a conservative columnist for the Washington Post and one of Donald Trump’s harshest critics on the right, calling him an “unhinged president.”

Robert Kagan, a cofounder of the Project for the New American Century, is a neoconservative policy pundit and historian based at the Brookings Institution.

Mira Ricardel, former weapons marketer for Boeing, is the deputy national security adviser under John Bolton. She is a well-known foreign policy hawk who has served in key positions in the administration of George W. Bush and, earlier, in the office of former Senator Robert Dole (R-KS).

Fred Fleitz left his role as chief of staff at the National Security Council under John Bolton to succeed notorious Islamophobe Frank Gaffney as president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.

Brian Hook is the director of policy planning and senior policy advisor to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and is the head of the Iran Action Group.

Haim Saban is a media mogul and major donor to the Democratic Party known for his hardline stance on Israel and opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.