General James Mattis Resigns

Nancy Langley
Policy Choices
21 December 2018
Updated: 11:41 AM EST

On Thursday evening, 20 December 2018, the Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, submitted his resignation to Donald J. Trump. Known for his steady temperament and intelligence, there should be no assumption that any single event led to the decision to resign.

However, it is important to review the past 24-36 hours to understand what a “typical” day with this particular president could entail – based on what that president has put into the public realm.

On December 19th the president mentioned Syria in a tweet.

Wednesday evening, the president posted a video on Twitter.

Official Announcement of Troop Withdrawal from Syria

On Thursday, December 20th, the president shared quotes from FOX network’s Laura Ingraham that boasted about Trump’s success in the Middle East.

Six hours later, he begins Thursday morning with four additional tweets – about Syria.

Those tweets and a video were the formal announcement of the United States regarding the withdrawal of troops from Syria.

Was that decision discussed and encouraged by intelligence and military experts?

I may never know for certain, but in all likelihood, if he talked to the experts, he ignored their advice.

UPDATE: According to this article in the Associated Press, the president’s decision-making occurred Tuesday.

In reading those specific tweets, I think it is important to take note of a couple of things.

  1. He specifically states that his decision is the opposite of former President Obama’s decision.
  2. He mentions Russia, Iran and Syria – twice each – and that: a. they, not the U.S., are enemies of ISIS and b. they would not be happy should the U.S. pull out

The other important thing he mentions is this:

“ISIS hits us they are doomed!”

If the U.S. is not an enemy of ISIS, why would he toss down that gauntlet? Missing from his decision is a logical foundation of reasoning.

Trump let the world know that the U.S. Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, was “retiring”. He announced it, of course, in a tweet.

General Mattis did not retire. He resigned.

It is important that Americans read the resignation letter. The following two paragraphs are especially concerning. Mattis makes it clear that there is a concern about “malign actors” and that it is important to work with allies to ensure U.S. “security, prosperity and values”.

In choosing to withdraw from Syria, and possibly Afghanistan, the president is choosing to walk away from crucial alliances. That is an action that is detrimental to our national security. And while decisions regarding U.S. military involvement are matters that fall within the president’s realm of responsibilities, those are decisions that should never be made on a whim … or as a response to discussions with non-U.S. interests who hold different objectives that may not align with U.S. objectives.

The world is a less safe place now, and the president is the person who has made it so. Others are complicit. They have allowed this to occur – they have failed to fulfill the duties of their offices in the Congress. They must remove Donald J. Trump from the office of the President. Anything less is cowardice – and the world knows it.