It’s disconcerting enough when the most level-headed and trusted member of an administration is nicknamed “Mad Dog.” It is positively terrifying when that individual concludes he can no longer restrain the actual madness of the President he serves. But that is where America finds itself today.
Mattis quit after the Child-In-Chief ignored his advice and that of the Pentagon and State Departments, and decided (evidently after consulting his “gut”) to pull American troops unilaterally out of Syria. This rash move leaves our Kurd allies at the mercy of the Turks who have threatened to eliminate them; it endangers Israel; and it plays directly into the hands of Iran and Russia.
A Washington Post column was one among the many pointing to the strategic consequences of Trump’s abrupt and foolhardy move, and Mattis’ departure:
From the day Jim Mattis took over the Pentagon, he was seen by Washington and the world as a safeguard against a president addicted to chaos and animated by a different moral code.
At home, he was the seasoned battlefield commander who was willing to check Trump’s often-impulsive instincts when it came to deploying force. As long as Mattis was at the helm of the Pentagon, Republicans and Democrats trusted there was someone who would fight to ensure military actions weren’t taken on a whim.
Overseas, Mattis was perhaps the only Trump administration official who had the unconditional trust of America’s closest allies.
In his resignation letter, Mattis described the “resolute and unambiguous” leadership style that he had tried to bring to his position, particularly when dealing with threats posed by countries such as Russia and China.
Unstated, but implied, was that Trump’s erratic and impetuous approach to foreign policy isn’t up to the threats America faces.
The implications of Mattis’ resignation, underscored by the unprecedented language he employed when he submitted it, are deeply worrisome. Mattis has been one of the very few members of Trump’s administration widely perceived to be competent and honorable. His departure will make it much more difficult for partisans to ignore the damage Trump is doing to America’s standing in the world community, and his constant, dangerous assaults on global stability.
In an administration that has seen unprecedented turnover, Mattis’s conclusion that he could no longer work with Trump is likely to alter the course of the administration’s foreign policy more than any other departure.
In Europe and Asia, Mattis often traveled in Trump’s wake and calmed allies who were unnerved by the president’s threats to abandon allies who didn’t pay more for their defense. His decades of service and commitment to alliances reassured allies who were put off by Trump’s tendency to kowtow to strongmen, such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and insult traditional partners in Canada and Great Britain.
It is highly unlikely Trump will find anyone even minimally qualified who is willing to replace Mattis. (As one of my favorite bloggers, Juanita Jean, noted in her inimitable way, “Trump, you have no Secretary of State, no Attorney General, no Chief of Staff, no Secretary Defense, no border wall, and you probably don’t have a winkie. All you have left is the little Nazi-guy with the spray on hair.”)
Most of the people who were willing to join this administration have proved to be grifters, incompetents and/or outright thieves. A few, like Mattis, evidently concluded that duty to the country required subordinating concerns about working for an ignorant and manifestly unfit President.
Republican politicians who justified their public support for Crazy Town by reassuring themselves that people like Mattis would control the nuclear button, and Congressional Republicans willing to go along with a loony-tunes President in order to get those deficit-ballooning tax cuts for their rich patrons need to face up to the facts: America is being endangered daily by a mentally-ill narcissist who knows absolutely nothing about government or foreign policy, is uninterested in learning, and unwilling to listen to people who do actually know something.
Congressional Republicans have been consistently willing to put party above country, and must be held equally culpable for the incredible damage being done by this rogue administration. History will not be kind to them.