The day after President Donald Trump announced his decision to remove troops from Syria, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis offered his resignation effective February 28, 2019.
President Trump on Wednesday in a video posted on Twitter announced that he was pulling troops out of Syria.
Mattis states in his resignation letter released by the Pentagon that he has strong views on how the United States treats allies and leads alliances. He said he is resigning so the President can have a Secretary of Defense who has views that are “better aligned” with his own.
His resignation letter in part reads:
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the 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. NATO’s 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.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America our allies. That is why we must use all of the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
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 in these issues. We must do every possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.
President Trump on Twitter said Mattis will be “retiring with distinction.”
“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!” he said.
Prior to his appointment as Secretary of Defense, General Mattis (USMC Ret.) capped a 44-year military career as Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), directing military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines across the Middle East. He served in that role from his appointment in 2010 until his retirement in 2013.
Read his full letter below: