When Gen. James Mattis came into the Trump Administration, I have to admit, I thought he sounded like a great choice.
Seemingly devoted to the military, someone who seemed to brook no bull, a plain-speaking guy.
When they came to a parting of the ways, I thought it was unfortunate that it didn’t work out.
But with what Mattis had to say in an op-ed written with others on Monday, it’s not surprising it didn’t work out and it says an awful lot, none of it good.
Mattis actually said in the piece that he hoped that a Joe Biden administration would take “America First” out of the national security strategy. Wait, what? Yes, he actually said that.
“In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades,” they wrote. “The best strategy for ensuring safety and prosperity is to buttress American military strength with enhanced civilian tools and a restored network of solid alliances – both necessary to achieving defense in depth.”
Who in their right mind does not believe that it is the President’s obligation, not to mention the obligation of generals in the military like Mattis, to put “America First?” It’s literally part of the description of the job, that you are to defend America. Not foreign nations, not global interests.
They continue to argue in the article that “America First” means “America alone.” But a simple review of the Trump administration’s foreign policy reveals how untrue that is. We see that it was far more successful than that of the Obama/Biden administration which Mattis, et al., seem to be suggesting we go back to. We saw historic peace agreements in the Middle East. We saw improved relations with the U.S. and other countries in the Middle East. We saw the benefit of isolating Iran which led to that and also kept Iran in check, unlike Obama/Biden. We saw NATO actually made stronger in the words of the Secretary-General of NATO because President Donald Trump demanded that the other countries in Europe pay their fair share of the load; that it wasn’t just all on the U.S. Trump reached out to North Korea, which was allowed to advance in its nuclear ambitions under Obama/Biden, and improved relations, which helped move things closer to peace there, as well.
So what does it get down to? Continuing war.
Mattis and his co-authors said that “to dismiss U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere as ‘endless’ or ‘forever’ wars – as both President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden do – rather than as support to friendly governments struggling to exert control over their own territory misses the point.”
“It is in the United States’ interests to build the capacity of such governments to deal with the threats that concern Americans; that work isn’t quick or linear, but it is an investment in both greater security and stronger relationships and preferable to the United States’ indefinitely having to take care of threats on its own,” they wrote.
Translation: we really don’t like him because he’s going to pull us out of the wars, he’s not a fan of the war machine. Unlike Biden.
I agree that you can pull out and create disaster. Such as when Obama did in Iraq and allowed the rise of ISIS, then did nothing to stop it when warned. That cost American lives.
But if you can’t figure out what you’re doing or how to end it, just being there forever because you want to “support friendly governments” doesn’t make sense. We’re twenty years in Afghanistan.
Far from America alone, America First has meant America First, engaged and active in foreign policy, no longer bending over and no longer on an “apology tour.”
It’s more than a little disconcerting when you have people who are supposed to put America first speak like this.