Goodbye, General Mattis

Secretary of Defense resigns.

He says his “views are not aligned with Trump’s.”

I’ve heard many people say that he was the only good member of Trump’s cabinet, and everyone I know who is or was in the military seems to think the world of him. And I always assumed that no matter what else happened, he would stick it out.

Goodbye, “Mad Dog.” Hope your replacement is free of major malfunctions, but I know that’s probably asking too much.

Wow. This is scary. The only person with any sense is gone.
I don’t know how he was able to stay as long as he did.

Obviously the Syrian withdrawal was the final straw, which there seems to be near-unanimous consensus that that’s a terrible decision.

Not good.

Well there is still Steve Mnuchin left of the suicide pact. Of course if the markets keep going the way they are, Trump might need a scapegoat to shove under the bus.

I would guess that Mattis wanted his resignation to count for something—to be a shock to the Trump-enabling system.

He decided this was the moment.

I hope it does shock some people out of their complacency.

He gave such a well-written statement and politely trashed the howling yam. But that’s a problem. Trump won’t read that. If Mattis wanted to push his buttons, he could’ve just wrote. “You’re an orange idiot. I’m out.”

Donald wouldn’t even have read that. Unless maybe it was written in the snow with Mattis’ pee and Melania’s handwriting.

I’m convinced that the only reason Mattis got the job was because of the “mad dog” nickname. That is about as deep as Donald would have gotten in the interview. Another loss of adult supervision in the Pennsylvania Avenue special needs adult day care.

Movie analogy time.

Stripes. America is the truck containing the entire squad out looking for John and Russell, who, obviously, represent the American way. Captain Stillman is Trump. Mattis is Sgt. Hulka. Anyone see where I’m going with this? They take a wrong turn and head into trouble; when Sgt. Hulka tries to point this out, he’s interrupted by Capt. Stillman: “Sergeant, this is my mission, I would appreciated it if you let me run it. Thank you!”

Hulka gives it a second of thought and says, “Fuck this,” and bails.

I’m not sure what the Winnebago represents.

Trump’s not really the audience.

Mattis is directly addressing an important debate that’s ongoing about US national interests and national defense strategy. His resignation gives him a chance to get his view out to a much broader audience than his two years as SECDEF have. He even used Madeleine Albright’s “indispensable nation” language, with a twist, in describing what he believes should be the US role in the international framework.

A reasonable look at the debate, on both sides of the US aisle, from earlier this month - The Battle Inside the Political Parties for the Future of U.S. Foreign Policy

This wasn’t Mattis sending a “take this job and shove it memo” to Trump. This was the Mattis who has a reputation as a scholar-warrior. He’s making one last argument about US foreign policy on his way out the door.

<whispered aside>I think it’s us!</whispered aside>

I know we’ve got a new meltdown every day from the administration, but this is truly dangerous. In his last days, there was concern that Nixon, who was locking himself away in an alcoholic stupor and acting increasing irratically, might lose his marbles and order a nuclear launch, SecDef James Schlesinger ran around telling everyone involved with the process to check with him first if they got any launch orders.

Trump is far more unhinged than Nixon, and more desperate. And Trump has a history of asking “why can’t we use nukes?” in relation to every military situation.

There is no sanity check on a president that orders a nuclear launch. There is only authentication checks - to guarantee that it’s a real order from the president. He has sole authority to launch nuclear weapons at any time for any reason. The process that people train on is drilled over and over again - it doesn’t allow room for interpretation, it’s programming people to take quick action. You get the launch orders, authenticate them, and you launch. That’s it. This is a sole power of the presidency.

Mattis was the last of the sane people remaining in his cabinet. He could’ve potentially derailed an insane launch order (which would result in chaos, but at least it would’ve had a chance at stopping it), but now Trump is going to replace him with a lackey.

Is it so far fetched, when everything is closing in down on Trump, who has a history of creating chaotic distractions when he’s in trouble, to start a war as a last desperate attempt at distraction?

Of all the insane turnover and chaos within the Trump administration, this one is the most dangerous. This is very, very bad news.

FWIW, you may be right, but count me in the numbers who don’t think Trump has knowingly “created a distraction” in his life, which may help the odds, because then he’d need a reason to personally be mad at the target to even think of thinking of them.

Again, not saying this is likely, but I just don’t buy Trump as any sort of manipulator at all who deliberately creates a car crash moment to draw attention from what he’s “really” doing. If he launches nukes, it won’t be because he wants to start a war to distract from his own problems.

I personally wonder why Mattis thinks he can no longer do any good, if the reports that he has considered this “stopping the nukes” scenario are true. He’d rather see missiles launched, or does he not think he can even do that anymore? Maybe we’ll see in February, after he leaves.

Which brings me to another thing: I have never been convinced that there is actually a “lackey” out there who would really let Trump launch nukes without even an attempt to stop him. I mean, it’s one thing to go along when your pockets are being lined and those nasty minorities you dislike are being put in their place. But this? Just regular loyalty would be hard pressed to survive actually having to deal with the man. The only category I can think of is really hardcore fundamentalist insane apocalyptic Christian, and why would Trump like any of them? He has no use for religion, and would hate that they think God is greater than he is.

I realize this is a gamble, and I hate we have to even think about it. But Mueller is still working, and it looks like he’ll finish doing his job, even though there’s an acting AG in place who has publicly criticized him before. This is a worry, yes, but I just don’t think it’s as dire as some make it out to be… right now.

Wanting to do something to protect Trump personally is one thing. Actually doing it, in the face of real life consequences, personal and otherwise, is another.

John Bolton is the national security advisor of the United States. He’s not a Trump lackey, but he’s a kook. If Trump puts someone in that mold as SecDef, is it so hard to believe that they’d be able to talk a senile old asshole into nuking Iran? This is a guy (Trump) who goes to Alex Jones for advice. I think we’ve become so numb to just how incredibly shitty Trump is with the daily meltdowns that we forget just how bad things can be.

I know Bolton loves war, but has he actually advocated nuclear first strikes in service of it? Serious question. Conventional war is pretty bad, of course, but nukes are another thing entirely.

Honestly, what PUTIN thinks of nuclear exchanges may be more relevant here…

I agree this is truly dangerous. To that, why resign? Why not remain at the post and speak PUBLICLY of your concerns and disagreements, and let the chips fall where they may?

Because he’s not able to do his job any longer? Because he wants to give a public signal to our allies that he’s trying to remind us of our obligations?

I suspect that Mattis may have been influenced by Turkish statements after Trump announced the withdrawal.

When speaking of the Kurdish forces the US military has been supporting, the Turkish Defense Minister said:

Will any ally of the US ever trust us again?

Given how respected Mattis is by his military peers it seems unlikely none of them would be eager to take over at DOD if the job was offered to them.

To that end, what odds are there of Oliver North getting Senate confirmation if the President should put his name forward?

John Mattis was Donald Trump’s best hire. Unlike John Kelly he managed to serve the office, not the person, without sacrificing his soul and looking like a complete jackass.

I raise my glass to you, Secretary Mattis. You are the epitome of a public servant.