Thursday 28th of May 2020

the end of mad dog...

mad dog
Send the Mad Dog to the Corporate Kennel

by  Posted on December 22, 2018


Outgoing Defense Secretary Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis was famous for quipping, “It’s fun to shoot some people.” It remains a supreme irony that Mattis was widely considered the only “adult in the room” in the Trump administration. Compared to whom? John Bolton, the rabid neocon serving as national security adviser? That would be the epitome of “condemning with faint praise.”

With his ramrod-straight image, not to mention his warrior/scholar reputation extolled in the media, Mattis was able to disguise the reality that he was, as Col. Andrew Bacevich put it on Democracy Now! this morning, “totally unimaginative.” Meaning that Mattis was simply incapable of acknowledging the self-destructive, mindless nature of U.S. “endless war” in the Middle East, which candidate-Trump had correctly called “stupid.” In his resignation letter, Mattis also peddled the usual cant about the indispensable nation’s aggression being good for the world.

Mattis was an obstacle to Trump’s desire to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan (and remains in position to spike Trump’s orders). Granted, the abrupt way Trump announced his apparently one-man decision was equally stupid. But withdrawal of ground troops is supremely sane, and Mattis was and is a large problem. And, for good or ill, Trump – not Mattis – was elected president.

Marine Wisdom

Historically, Marines are the last place to turn for sound advice. Marine Gen. Smedley Butler (1881-1940), twice winner of the Medal of Honor, was brutally candid about this, after he paused long enough to realize, and write, “War is a Racket”:

“I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher- ups. …”

Shortly after another Marine general, former CENTCOM commander Anthony Zinni, retired, he stood by silently as he personally watched then-Vice President Dick Cheney give his most important speech ever (on August 26, 2002). Cheney blatantly lied about Iraq’s (nonexistent) WMD, in order to grease the skids for the war of aggression against Iraq. Zinni had kept his clearances and was “back on contract.” He was well read-in on Iraq, and knew immediately that Cheney was lying.

A few years later, Zinni admitted that he decided that his lips would be sealed. Far be it for a Marine to play skunk at the picnic. And, after all, he was being honored that day at the same Veterans of Foreign Wars convention where Cheney spoke. As seems clear now, Zinni was also lusting after the lucrative spoils of war given to erstwhile generals who offer themselves for membership on the corporate Boards of the arms makers/merchants that profiteer on war.

(For an earlier critique of senior Marines, see: “Attacking Syria: Thumbing Noses at Constitution and Law.” )

Marine officer, now Sen. Pat Roberts, R, Kansas, merits “dishonorable mention” in this connection. He never rose to general, but did become Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee at an auspicious time for Cheney and Bush. Roberts kowtowed, like a “good Marine,” to their crass deceit, when a dollop of honesty on his part could have prevented the 2003 attack on Iraq and the killing, maiming, destruction, and chaos that continues to this day. Roberts knew all about the fraudulent intelligence, and covered it up – together with other lies – for as long as he remained Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman

Scott Ritter on Pat Roberts

Roberts’s unconscionable dereliction of duty enraged one honest Marine, Maj. Scott Ritter, who believes “Semper Fi” includes an obligation to tell the truth on matters of war and peace. Ritter, former UN chief weapons inspector for Iraq, who in April wrote in April 2005 “Semper Fraud, Senator Roberts,” based partly on his own experience with that complicit Marine. 

Needless to say, higher ranking, more malleable Marines aped Zinni in impersonating Uncle Remus’s Tar Baby – not saying nuttin’.

It is conceivable that yet another sharply-saluting Marine, departing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, may be tapped by Trump to take Mattis’s job. If that happens, it will add to President Trump’s bizarre penchant for picking advisers hell bent on frustrating the objectives he espoused when he was running for office, some of which – it is becoming quite clear – he genuinely wants to achieve.

Trump ought to unleash Mattis now, and make sure Mattis keeps his distance from the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial Complex, before he is asked to lead an insurrection against a highly vulnerable president – as Gen. Smedley Butler was asked to do back in the day. Butler said no.


Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). William Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. Reprinted with permission from Consortium News.


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Note: as mentioned on this site before, Mattis only had the alternative to resign with "honour" or be fired... His departure had been on the cards since Trump praised him for having "defeated ISIS" single-handedly, more than a year ago... This was the beginning of the inevitable "slide".


See also:

this is not about tony abbott...


"Trump announced his apparently one-man decision was equally stupid"... Not quite. It was the ONLY WAY Trump could do it, without being swayed not to do it by Hollywood... See a xmas miracle...

kicking mattis in the arse...

US President Donald Trump has announced a replacement for Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that will start two months earlier than had been expected.

Key points:
  • Patrick Shanahan will take on the role in an acting basis from January 1
  • General Mattis's resignation letter expressed that he did not align with Mr Trump's foreign policy
  • A White House official told Reuters that Mr Trump does not want the transition to drag out


According to a senior White House official, the move to bring forward the replacement was sparked by Mr Trump's anger at General Mattis' resignation letter and its public rebuke of his foreign policy.

Mr Trump said Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan would take over for General Mattis on an acting basis on January 1.

In a tweet, Mr Trump called the former Boeing Co executive "very talented".

"He will be great!" Mr Trump said about Shanahan.


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Is The Donald becoming smarter by the minute? 

peace on earth....


Mattis Marks End of the Global War on Terror

He is an artifact of a failed war policy and his departure was a long time coming.

By PETER VAN BUREN • December 24, 2018

Senior officials never seem to resign over a president starting a war. Now Trump, the guy everyone expected to start new wars, has instead ended one and is on his way to wrapping up another.

The New York Times, its journalists in mourning over the loss of a war, ask, “Who will protect America now?” Mattis the warrior-monk is juxtaposed with the flippant commander-in-Cheeto. The Times sees strategic disaster in an “abrupt and dangerous decision, detached from any broader strategic context or any public rationale, [that] sowed new uncertainty about America’s commitment to the Middle East, [and] its willingness to be a global leader.” 

“A major blunder,” tweeted Senator Marco Rubio. “If it isn’t reversed it will haunt…America for years to come.” Senator Lindsey Graham called for congressional hearings. And what is history if not irony? Rubio talks of haunting foreign policy decisions in Syria seemingly without knowledge of previous calamities in Iraq. Graham wants to hold hearings on quitting a war Congress never held hearings on authorizing.

That’s all wrong. Jim Mattis’s resignation as defense secretary (and on Sunday, Brett McGurk, as special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS) and Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and Afghanistan are indeed significant. But that’s because they mark the beginning of the end of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), the singular, tragic, bloody driver of American foreign policy for almost two decades.

It’s 2018, soon to be 2019. Why does the U.S. have troops in Syria?

To defeat the Islamic State? ISIS’s ability to hold ground and project power outside its immediate backyard was destroyed somewhere back in 2016 by an unholy coalition of American, Iranian, Russian, Syrian, Turkish, and Israeli forces in Iraq and Syria. Sure, there are terrorists who continue to set off bombs in ISIS’s name, but they are not controlled or directed out of Syria. They are most likely legal residents of the Western countries they attack, radicalized online or in local mosques. They are motivated by a philosophy, which cannot be destroyed on the ground in Syria. This is the fundamental failure of the GWOT: that you can’t blow up an idea.

Regime change? It was never a practical idea. As in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, there was never a plan for what to do next, for how to keep Syria from descending into complete chaos the day Assad was removed. And though progressives embraced the idea of getting rid of another “evil dictator” when it came through the mouthpiece of Obama’s own freedom fighter Samantha Power, the same idea today has little drive behind it.

Russia? Overwrought fear of Moscow was once a sign of unhealthy paranoia satirized on The Twilight Zone. Today, Russia hate is seen as a prerequisite to patriotism, though it still makes no more sense. The Russians have long had a practical relationship with Syria, having maintained a naval base at Tartus since 1971, which they will continue to do. There was never a plan for the U.S. to push the Russians out—Obama in fact saw the Russian presence are part of the solution in Syria. American withdrawal is far more of a return to status quo than anything like a win for Putin. (Elsewhere at TAC, Matt Purple pokes more holes in Putin paranoia.)

The Kurds? The U.S.-Kurd story is one of expediency over morality. We’ve used them only because, at every sad turn, there’s been no force otherwise available in bulk. The Kurds have been abandoned many times by America: in 1991 when it refused to assist them in breaking away from Saddam Hussein following Gulf War I, when it insisted they remain part of a “united Iraq” following Gulf War II, and most definitively in 2017 following Gulf War III when the U.S. did not support their independence referendum, relegating them to Baghdad’s forever half-loved stepchild. 

After all that, America’s intentions toward the Kurds in Syria are barely a sideshow-scale event. The Kurds want to cleave off territory from Turkey and Syria, something neither nation will permit and something the U.S. quietly understands would destabilize the region. Mattis, by the way, supported NATO ally Turkey in its fight against the Kurds, calling them an “active insurgency inside its borders.”

Iran? Does the U.S. really have troops in Syria to brush back Iranian influence? As with “all of the above,” that genie got out of the bottle years ago. Iranian power in the greater Middle East has grown dramatically since 2003, and has been driven at every step by the blunders of the United States. If the most powerful army in the world couldn’t stop the Iranians from essentially winning Gulf Wars II and III, how can 2,000 troops in Syria hope to accomplish much? 

The United States, of course, wasn’t even shooting at the Iranians in Syria; in most cases it was working either with them or tacitly alongside them towards the goal of killing off ISIS. Tehran’s role as Assad’s protector was set as America rumbled about regime change. Iran has since pieced together a land corridor to the Mediterranean through Iraq and Syria, which it will not be giving up, certainly not because of the presence of a few thousand Americans.

What remains is that once-neocon, now progressive catch-all: we need to stay in Syria to preserve American credibility. While pundits can still get away with this line, the rest of the globe already knows the empire has no clothes. Since 2001, the United States has spent some $6 trillion on its wars, and killed multiple 9/11s worth of American troops and foreign civilians. The U.S. has tortured, still maintains its gulag at Guantanamo, and, worst of all credibility-wise, has lost on every front. Afghanistan after 17 years of war festers. Nothing was accomplished with Iraq. Libya is a failed state. Syria is the source of a refugee crisis whose long-term effects on Europe are still being played out. We are the “indispensable nation” only in our own minds. A lot of people around the world probably wish America would just stop messing with their countries.

So why does the U.S. have troops in Syria? Anyone? Bueller? Mattis?

America’s presence in Syria, like Jim Mattis himself, is an artifact of another era, the failed GWOT. As a Marine, Mattis served in ground combat leadership roles in Gulf Wars I and II, and also in Afghanistan. He ran United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, the final years of The Surge in Iraq and American withdrawal afterwards. There is no doubt why he supported the American military presence in Syria, and why he resigned to protest Trump’s decision to end it: Mattis knew nothing else. His entire career was built around the strategy of the GWOT, the core of which was to never question GWOT strategy. Mattis didn’t need a reason to stay in Syria; being in Syria was the reason.

So why didn’t Trump listen to his generals? Maybe because the bulk of their advice has been dead wrong for 17 years? Instead, Trump plans a dramatic drawdown of troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. presence in Iraq has dwindled from combat to advise and assist. Congress seems poised to end U.S. involvement in Yemen against Mattis’s advice.

There is no pleasure in watching Jim Mattis end his decades of service with a bureaucratic dirty stick shoved at him as a parting gift. But to see this all as another Trump versus the world blunder is very wrong. The war on terror failed. It should have been dismantled long ago. Barack Obama could have done it, but instead became a victim of hubris and bureaucratic capture, and allowed it to expand. His supporters give him credit for not escalating the war in Syria, but leave out the part about how he also left the pot to simmer on the stove instead of removing it altogether.

The raw drive to insta-hate everything Trump does is misleading otherwise thoughtful people. So let’s try a new lens: during the campaign Trump outspokenly denounced the waste of America’s wars. Pro-Trump sentiment in rural areas was driven by people who agreed with his critique, by people who’d served in these wars, whose sons and daughters had served, or, given the length of all this, both. Since taking office, the president has pulled U.S. troops back from pointless conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Congress may yet rise to do the same for American involvement in Yemen. No new wars have been started. Though the results are far from certain, for the first time in nearly 20 years, negotiations are open again with North Korea. Mattis’s ending was clumsy, but it was a long time coming. It is time for some old ideas to move on.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan. He is permanently banned from federal employment and Twitter.


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the military brass versus the business man...


On 19 December 2018, the announcement of the partial withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the total withdrawal from Syria sounded like a thunderclap. It was followed the next day by the resignation of Secretary for Defense, James Mattis. Contrary to the affirmation of President Trump’s opposition, the two men hold one another in high esteem, and their difference of opinion has nothing to do with the withdrawals, but with the manner in which the consequences should be managed. The United States are facing a choice which will mark a separation and transform the world.

Before anything else, in order to avoid barking up the wrong tree, we should remember the conditions and the aim of the collaboration between Trump and Mattis.

As soon as he entered the White House, Donald Trump was careful to surround himself with three senior military officers with enough authority to reposition the armed forces. Michael Flynn, John Kelly and especially James Mattis, have since left or are in the process of leaving. All three men are great soldiers who together had opposed their hierarchy during Obama’s presidency [1]. They did not accept the strategy implemented by ambassador John Negroponte for the creation of terrorist groups tasked with stirring up a civil war in Iraq [2]. All three stood with President Trump to annul Washington’s support for the jihadists. Nonetheless, each of them had his own vision of the role of the United States in the world, and ended up clashing with the President.

The storm whipped up by the mid-term elections has arrived [3]. The time has come to rethink international relations.


When in April, as he had promised, Donald Trump mentioned US withdrawal from Syria, the Pentagon persuaded him to stay. Not that a few thousand men could turn the tide of war, but because their presence acted as a counterweight to the Russian influence and a backup for Israël.

However, the transfer of Russian weapons of defence to the Syrian Arab Army, particularly the S-300 missiles and ultra-sophisticated radars coordinated by the automated command and control system Polyana D4M1, changed the balance of forces [4]. From that moment on, US military presence became counter-productive – any ground attack by pro-US mercenaries could no longer be supported by US aviation without the risk of losing aircraft.

By withdrawing now, the Pentagon avoids the test of power and the humiliation of an inevitable defeat. Indeed, Russia has successively refused to give the United States and Israël the security codes for the missiles delivered to Syria. This means that after years of Western arrogance, Moscow has declined the sharing of control of Syria that it had accepted during the first Geneva Conference in 2012, and that Washington had violated a few weeks later.

Apart from this, Moscow recognised a long time ago that US presence is illegal in terms of International Law, and that Syria can legitimately act in self-defence.

The consequences

The decision to withdraw from Syria is loaded with consequences.

1— Pseudo-Kurdistan

The Western project for the creation of a colonial state in the North-East of Syria which would be attributed to the Kurds will not happen. Indeed, fewer and fewer Kurds give it their support, considering that this conquest would be comparable to the unilateral proclamation of a state – Israël – by Jewish militia, in 1948.

As we have often explained, Kurdistan would only be legitimate within the boundaries which were recognised by the Conférence de Sèvres in 1920, in other words, in what is now Turkey, and nowhere else [5]. Yet only a few weeks ago, the United States and France were still considering the possibility of creating a pseudo-Kurdistan on Arab land, and having it administered under a UN mandate by the French ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner [6].

2— The Cebrowski strategy 

The Pentagon project for the last seventeen years in the « Greater Middle East » will not happen. Conceived by Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, it was aimed at destroying all the state structures in the region, with the exception of Israël, Jordan and Lebanon [7]. This plan, which began in Afghanistan, spread as far as Libya, and is still under way, will come to an end on Syrian territory.

It is no longer acceptable that US armies fight with taxpayers’ funds for the sole financial interests of global financiers, even if they are US citizens.

3— US military supremacy

The post-Soviet world order based on US military supremacy is now dead. This may be difficult to accept, but that changes nothing. The Russian Federation is now more powerful, both in terms of conventional weaponry (since 2015) and nuclear weaponry (since 2018 [8]). The fact that the Russian armies are one third less numerous than those of the US, and have only isolated troop presence overseas, cancels out the hypothesis of Russian imperialism.

The Victors and the Vanquished

The war against Syria will end in the moths to come for lack of mercenaries. The delivery of weapons by certain states, coordinated by KKR funds, may drag the crime on for a short time, but does not offer the hope of changing the course of events.

Without any possible doubt, the victors of this war are Syria, Russia and Iran, while the vanquished are the 114 states which joined the « Friends of Syria ». Some of these have not awaited defeat to correct their foreign policy. Indeed, the United Arab Emirates have just announced the forthcoming reopening of their embassy in Damascus.

However, the case of the United States is more complex. The Bush Jr. and Obama administrations shoulder the entire responsibility for this war. They were the ones who planned it and realised it within the framework of a unipolar world. On the other hand, as a candidate, Donald Trump accused these administrations of having failed to protect US citizens, but instead having served the interests of transnational finance. As soon as he became President, Mr. Trump persistently cut his country’s support for the jihadists and withdrew his men from the Greater Middle East. He must therefore be considered as one of the victors of this war, and could therefore logically avoid the US obligation to pay for war damage caused by the transnational companies implicated [9]. For him, it is now a question of reorienting the armed forces towards the defence of US territory, ending the whole imperial system, and developing the US economy.


For the last few months, the United States have been discreetly negotiating with the Taliban for the conditions of their withdrawal from Afghanistan. A first round of contact with ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad took place in Qatar. A second round has just begun in the United Arab Emirates. Apart from the two US and Taliban delegations, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan are also participating. A delegation from the Afghan government has also arrived, in the hope of joining in.

It has been seventeen years since the United States and the United Kingdom invaded Afghanistan, officially in retaliation for the attacks of 9/11. However, this war followed the 2001 negotiations in Berlin and Geneva. The invasion was not aimed at stabilising this country in order to exploit it economically, but to destroy any form of a state in order to control its exploitation. So far, this has worked, since every day the situation is worse than the day before.

Let’s note that Afghanistan’s misery began during the Carter presidency. National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzeziński, called on the Muslim Brotherhood and Israël to launch a campaign of terrorism against the Communist government [10]. Terrified, the government appealed to the Soviets to maintain order. The result was a fourteen-year war, followed by a civil war, and then followed by the Anglo-US invasion.

After forty years of uninterrupted destruction, President Trump states that US military presence is not the solution for Afghanistan, it’s the problem.

The place of the United States in today’s world

By withdrawing half of the US troops legally stationed in Afghanistan and all of those illegally occupying Syria, President Trump is keeping one of his electoral promises. He still has to withdraw the 7,000 men and women who remain.

It is in this context that General Mattis asked a fundamental question in his letter of resignation [11]. He writes: « "One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof."

In other words, James Mattis does not contest the logic of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Syria, but what will probably follow - the dislocation of the alliances around the United States and finally, the possible dismantling of NATO. For the Secretary for Defense, the United States must reassure their allies by giving them the impression that they know what they are doing and that they are the strongest. It matters little whether this is true or not, the point is to maintain the cohesion between the allies, whatever the cost. However, for the President, there is a clear and present danger. The United States have already lost their first economic status to China, and now their first military place to Russia. It is necessary to cease being the one-eyed man leading the blind, but first to look after ones own.

In this affair, James Mattis is acting like a military man. He knows that a nation without allies is lost from the start. Donald Trump thinks like the CEO of a company. He must first clean up the deficient affiliates which are threatening to sink his enterprise.

Thierry Meyssan

Pete Kimberley


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"I found my guy"...

Jim Webb—the former Virginia senator, Ronald Reagan Navy secretary, and brief but memorable 2016 Democratic presidential candidate—addressed The American Conservative’s foreign policy conference in November 2016, immediately following Donald Trump’s shock White House victory. 

He recalled what a friend and fellow Marine told him about Trump: “He said: ‘This guy Donald Trump. The Republicans hate him. The Democrats hate him. The media hates him. I think I found my guy.’”

Webb, a Vietnam veteran, then graciously added: “I would like to salute Donald Trump for his tenacity, for the uniqueness of his campaign.” 

Webb is not totally dissimilar to Trump, at least when it comes to party affiliation. Webb, who served as Navy secretary under Reagan’s Republican administration, is still officially a Democrat, but has always been coy about whether he personally voted for Trump or whether he would serve in his administration. He was clear on NBC’s Morning Joe in 2016 that he could not vote for Hillary Clinton, however, leaving viewers to draw their own conclusions.

In the days following Trump’s victory, some called for Webb to take the reins at the Pentagon. 

“The key for Trump will be to figure out a way to keep his coalition of supporters content,” wrote popular conservative columnist Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, advocating for Webb. “One sector of that coalition is the one that includes those who were attracted to what they believed his foreign policy to be—restraint about when and where the United States fights wars coupled with a clear path to victory when we do.” In introducing Webb before his 2016 address, TAC’s own Bill Kauffman made the same suggestion.

Now, with James Mattis having left the Pentagon, that call is sounding again. “Former Navy Secretary and former Asst Sec Def @JimWebbUSA would be someone to consider seriously for SecDef. His foreign policy views line up better with @realdonaldtrump and are not Bush 3.0,” Fox News’s Laura Ingraham tweeted. Ingraham, two sources familiar with the matter tell me, is close to Gods & Generals director Ron Maxwell, who is said to be quietly pushing behind the scenes on Webb’s behalf. And Ingraham, along with Tucker Carlson, also a friend of foreign policy restraint, form the tip of the spear of the new regime at Fox News, which, of course, has the ear of the president.

Primetime Fox—Ingraham, Carlson, and Sean Hannity—has been been far more likely to defend the president’s foreign policy courses than Fox’s more establishment-oriented daytime programming. So while Fox & Friends was castigating Trump over the Syria withdrawal, Carlson and Ingraham were just as bellicosely defending him. The war for the president’s mind is very real, and the fact that Ingraham and possibly Carlson are advocating for Webb makes him a major player.


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the new fox in the henhouse....

“The answers that you gave to the questions, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were almost condescending, and I’m not overjoyed that you came from one of the five corporations that receive 90 percent of the taxpayers’ dollars. I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse,” McCain, then Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, told Shanahan.

Later, he underscored a statement he made to the committee, telling the Military Times that he was wary of bringing so many executives into the Pentagon. 

“I said I did not want people from the top five corporations,” said McCain. “We’ve had a couple, and that’s okay, but I don’t want [more of] them.”

In the same report, Senator Jack Reed, the ranking member on SASC, said there is “real concern about the concentration of these people.” He stopped short of saying it might derail nominees, calling it “a factor to be considered.”

“If you’re drawing from one sector alone, you get this groupthink possibility, which could be dangerous,” said Reed. While Reed said he believed at the time that no ethics rules were being broken, “it’s hard after working for a major corporation for 30 years to separate the appearance—when you’re making a decision—that you’re being influenced by your prior employment.”


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mad dog barks it like it could have been...


Barndollar says: “The vast majority of military leaders, up to and including generals at the three-, four-star level, are not operating at the strategic level, in terms of what that word means in military doctrine. They’re not operating at the level of massive nation-state resources and alliances and things like that. They’re at the operational level or often even at the tactical level.”

This inability of America’s elites (including its generals) to grapple with strategic concepts is a result of the United States’ post-Cold War unipolar moment. When there’s only one superpower, geopolitics and the need for international balancing fall by the wayside.

The only component of national security policy Mattis discusses in his op-ed is America’s system of alliances, which he believes is the key to our preeminence on the world stage. “Returning to a strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can make common cause with, we can better deal with this imperfect world we occupy together,” he writes.

“Mattis, like virtually all of his four-star peers, is a reactionary, fighting every day against the forces of change in modern warfare,” counters Colonel Douglas Macgregor, who served 28 years in the U.S. Army. “He lives in denial of the technological breakthroughs that make the World War II force structure (that he as SecDef insisted on funding) an expensive tribute to the past.”

Mattis muses that the Department of Defense “budget [is] larger than the GDPs of all but two dozen countries.” Yet having acknowledged that disparity, how can such underpowered foreign nations possibly contribute to American security?

“He has that line in there about bringing as many guns as possible to a gun fight. …What are those guns?” asked Barndollar. For example, the British Royal Navy is the United States’ most significant allied naval force. But the United Kingdom has only seven vessels stationed in the Persian Gulf and they’re “stretched to the absolute limit to do that.”

“Our problem has been double-edged,” says Davis of America’s reliance on others. “On the one hand, we try to bludgeon a lot of our allies to do what we want irrespective of their interests as an asset. And then simultaneously, especially in previous administrations, we’ve almost gone too far [in] the other direction: ‘we’ll subordinate our interests for yours.’”

“[W]hen you shave it all down, his problem with being the epitome of establishment Washington is that he sees the alliance as the end, not as a means to an end,” says Davis. “The means should be to the end of improving American security and supporting our interests.”


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