Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has been well-respected by members of both parties. He has been seen as an adult in the room within an administration that has continually lurched from scandal to scandal.
There is perhaps no more important position than Secretary of Defense for there to be a sober-minded adult in place, able to moderate the extreme and often irrational impulses of Donald Trump, as this position is responsible for the defense of our country. But, unfortunately, James Mattis appears to have had enough.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned on Thursday, writing in an unsparing letter that he was stepping down because the president had “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”
Mattis’s resignation comes a day after President Donald Trump made the abrupt decision to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria, and his resignation letter notes the differences in Mattis’s worldview compared to Trump’s.
In the letter, Mattis reiterates his “core belief” in America’s alliance and partnerships, specifically NATO, and America’s need to be “resolute and unambiguous” in challenging countries such as China and Russia.
“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 on these issues,” Mattis wrote. “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.”
James Mattis resignation letter made it clear that his views did not align with the views of Donald Trump, and that the views of James Mattis were that our allies should be treated with respect and that we should be wary of foreign adversaries. In saying that, James Mattis also makes it clear that he does not believe Donald Trump wants to treat our allies with respect and he does not believe Donald Trump is sufficiently wary of our adversaries. As General Mattis’ resignation letter points out, he has been informed of these views by over four decades of experience. Contrast that with Donald Trump, whose career has consisted of being a real estate developer, failed casino magnate, and reality TV star.
It is likely not coincidental that James Mattis decided to tender his resignation the day after Donald Trump’s irresponsible announcement that he had ordered a full withdrawal of American troops from Syria, against the advice of his national security advisors, and with the likely result of handing Syria to Russia and selling out our allies in the region, such as the Kurds. This action of Trump’s with regards to Syria certainly stands out as an example of what James Mattis denounced in his resignation letter: not treating allies (the Kurds) with respect, and not being sufficiently wary of our adversaries (Russia).
The Trump administration continues to spiral downward. An average of four White House employees per month have quit or resigned since Trump took office. Almost every important cabinet official has been pushed out either due to a dispute with Donald Trump or due to scandal. Every organization that has been led by Donald Trump is under criminal investigation. Donald Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be completely unfit for the position he currently holds, both in temperament and in competence.
The chaos that has whirled around Donald Trump has now reached a real breaking point: our national security. It is well past time that Republicans in the Senate and House sober up to what is happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and start putting our country before their political party. It is well past time that Donald Trump be impeached.