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Opinion: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lets the world know who's in Charge

posted Dec 20, 2018, 10:20 PM by Rahni Sumler   [ updated Dec 20, 2018, 10:23 PM ]
Reposted from KM Wehrstein at Daily Kos 

Just as the full story is coming out of the plot between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 election, Defense Secretary James Mattis has spoken truth on behalf of America about the murderous Russian mobster-president.  Per Time:

26th Secretary of Defense, James Norman Mattis

James Mattis official photo.jpg

On December 20, 2018, James Mattis submitted his resignation, effective February 28, 2019, after failing to persuade Trump to reconsider his decision of the previous day to withdraw the remaining American troops from Syria. The letter has been published by politico at this link. 

Mattis has occasionally voiced his disagreement with certain Trump administration policies, including criticizing budget cuts that hamper the ability to monitor the impacts of climate change. He would be the first to resign in protest in American history.

Image by Monica King, United States Department of Defense, Public Domain

(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of trying to “muck around” in the U.S. midterm elections, of duplicity in arms control and of acting irresponsibly in last weekend’s naval confrontation with Ukraine.
In remarks at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, Mattis said the U.S.-Russian relationship has deteriorated over the last two years.
“We are dealing with someone that we simply cannot trust,” he said. “There is no doubt the relationship has worsened.”
Mattis did not elaborate on his claim that Russia tried to interfere in last month’s elections, adding only, “We are seeing a continued effort along those lines.” He added more generally, “It’s his efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended.”

I never thought Mattis was a toady.  Remember that nauseating dinner flattery-fest at the White House last year, when everyone around the table made homage to Trump, saying they thanked God for the opportunity to work for him, and so on?  There was just one person who did not kiss the orange ass, but rather maintained a dignified silence: James Mattis.

Mattis has made independent announcements about military policy also, for instance saying that NATO remains and will remain strong when Putin’s intention is the exact opposite.

However this, Mattis criticizing Putin directly and specifically for interfering in American elections, is unprecedented.  And it’s nervy.  Imagine castigating the person who put your boss in his position for doing so, then meeting him at work on Monday morning.  Mattis specifically mentions the midterms, but says Russia “tried again”, and mentions “a continuing effort,” pointing implicitly to 2016.

The basic message here, as I interpret it, is both to Americans and to the world: “Don’t worry, the American military is still sane and loyal to the Constitution and the American people, and will act in America’s national interest.  You can ignore the treasonous antics of the Commander-in-Chief.”

Never has an American president so had his feet cut out from under him, been treated so much as if he is illegitimate—yes, I think that message is there, too.  Never has he so been pushed aside.

It’s stunning: but it is appropriate and in fact necessary under the circumstances.  It is also carefully timed; Mattis has probably had it in his back pocket and was waiting for the right moment.  Power is an agreement between people, nothing more, and Trump’s is slipping away each day as the truth about his “victory at the polls” comes out and people rescind their agreements to his power.  When that happens it can leave a vacuum, which can be very dangerous militarily. Mattis is also letting Americans and the world know that the vacuum is being filled.

Another message I take from this concerns the threat, mentioned often in comments here and elsewhere, of another American civil war.  When I first saw that possibility mentioned, my immediate thought was, “If it happens, which side will the military take?” and Mattis came instantly to mind.  This is a country with a very powerful military, the most powerful on the planet.  If a usurper wants to seize control of such a country, he must have the head of the military on his side.

I think Mattis is implicitly making it very clear—to Americans, to the world, and to Trump—which side the military will take.  He is stating that the Trump-Putin plot to steal elections and subvert democracy is wrong, and is a threat to America.  It doesn’t get more clear than that.

If I hadn’t already expected that this would be Mattis’s position, I’d find these comments of his the most heartening words from anyone that I’ve heard since that black day in November 2016.

Post notes from KM Wehrstein:

Several commenters have weighed the likelihood of Mattis being fired for this.  Consider that he has said it now because he knows Trump’s power has ebbed enough that he can’t do it.

No, Mattis is not the only defense, and that’s part of why he’s speaking out this way, now.  Don’t forget that a big part of Trump’s loss of power is Dems taking the House in the mid-terms, and another big part is the Trump-Russia evidence coming out. Mattis is working in concert with the electorate and the Special Counsel.

And for those who are worried that he is performing or might perform a military coup: he’s not, and won’t.  Democracy and rule of law are working.

About KM Wehrstein

I’m a SPWM (single parent with mortgage) who earns every dollar I earn by writing.  If you’d like to help keep it economically feasible for me to write diaries like this one on DKos, please consider sending a donation my way.  Suggested amount $3. THANK YOU to all who have helped already. Your generosity humbles me.