Jim Mattis' Resignation Leaves America Weak and Vulnerable
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Politics and Activism

Jim Mattis' Resignation Leaves America Weak and Vulnerable

I do not know where Jim Mattis will be in 2019. It most certainly will not be the White House. We are a weaker nation for that. We may only hope that such action does not break us.

Jim Mattis' Resignation Leaves America Weak and Vulnerable

The departure of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis comes at a crucial juncture in the history of the United States of America.

President Donald Trump has announced that the United States will withdraw its troops from the still ongoing conflict in Syria, and Secretary Mattis disagrees with him. Severely.

As such, the two events are inextricably connected. General Mattis has often been at odds with the Trump administration about all sorts of policy matters, including the authoritarian nature of China and Russia and the administration's closeness with them.

This, however, proved to be the last straw.

Mattis' standing in Washington and especially with the military community has long been well-respected. He is unmarried and has no children. Deemed the "Warrior Monk" he has dedicated his life entirely to studying the art of war and serving the United States.

But now the nature of that service has become so corrupted even Mattis, among the most resolute of us, can no longer push back.

While Trump has fired a plentiful number of executives from their posts during the first two years of his term, none will create larger reverberations than Mattis. As the last of what Trump deemed "my generals" Mattis seems to be the last moderating force in a period of rule that has been nothing short of chaotic.

To add injury to insult, Mattis' original announcement of resignation signaled that he would depart from his current office in February. Upset by the heroic inflection with which the news media (already far from Trump's favorite people) praised Mattis and his departure, Trump decided to take matters into his own hands. The President declared that Mattis will leave at the start of the new year, January 1st, and not February as originally intended.

This new departure date might make for a better disposition among all parties by avoiding a lame duck period. The only reason Mattis wanted to stay so long was so he might meet one last time with certain influential NATO officials to make clear his stance towards Russia and Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria. That will no longer happen, but it's doubtful one more meeting would have made a quantitative difference anyways.

Instead, Trump's announcement is merely a further reminder of the ego that continues to sit the Oval Office.

Mattis' resignation might be noble, but it will hardly make a great difference in policy decisions that have been shaping themselves for the last two years or more. From Tom Price to H. R. McMaster to Reince Priebus, Trump has purged myriad administration individuals that he had chosen from the ranks of Congressional Republican leadership, the military, and the "establishment."

There is no more room for dialogue in the Trump administration. While some hoped the results of the 2018 midterms might have softened Trump's rhetoric, it has done anything but. The only folks left at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are loyalists and diehard fanatics.

And what's worse, the Trump decision to leave Syria and most of Afghanistan is no greater than the same decision President Obama made seven years ago to withdraw from Iraq. In the aftermath of that Obama decision, by 2014, ISIS had arisen anew and had claimed a swath of land roughly the size of the state of Pennsylvania.

Now, ISIS controls virtually no territory within the internationally recognized borders of either Syria or Iraq. Yet, the conflict and strife continues. Al-Assad's oppressive regime continues to slaughter pro-democracy rebels and deny the Kurds in the north of the country any semblance of self-determination. President Trump may be correct in that ISIS is "defeated" (or at least nominally so) but he is wrong if he thinks the issue in Syria is solved. If anything, based on the continuing coziness between Trump and Vladimir Putin, the situation has grown even more complex.

Trump realizes that Americans are war-weary, and I would be little surprised if he has made this move in response to the midterms, as a way to build up his credentials with the 2020 presidential election creeping closer. Being able to claim success in a foreign war that has raged on for almost eight years is an attractive message, despite the fact that it is gilded and inaccurate, as many of Trump's promises have been found to be.

I do not know where Jim Mattis will be in 2019. It most certainly will not be the White House. We are a weaker nation for that. We may only hope that such action does not break us.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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