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Reports: Trump’s Pick for Secretary of Defense is Retired Marine General James Mattis

Reports: Trump’s Pick for Secretary of Defense is Retired Marine General James Mattis

Official announcement expected early next week

According to the Washington Post, Trump has make his pick for Secretary of Defense — Retired Marine General James Mattis. Neither the Trump transition team nor Mattis have commented not the announcement expected early next week.

Mattis retired less than four years ago.

From WaPo:

To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.

An announcement is likely by early next week, according to the people familiar with the decision. Mattis declined to comment. Spokespersons for Trump’s transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

Mattis, 66, retired as the chief of U.S. Central Command in spring 2013 after serving more than four decades in the Marine Corps. He is known as one of the most influential military leaders of his generation, serving as a strategic thinker while occasionally drawing rebukes for his aggressive talk. Since retiring, he has served as a consultant and as a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution, a think tank at Stanford University.

Like Trump, Mattis favors a tougher stance against U.S. adversaries abroad, especially Iran. The general, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, said that while security discussions often focus on terrorist groups like the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, the Iranian regime is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”

Mattis said the next president “is going to inherit a mess,” and argued that the nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration last year may slow Iran’s ambitions to get a nuclear weapon, but won’t stop them.

“In terms of strengthening America’s global standing among European and Mid-Eastern nations alike, the sense is that the America has become somewhat irrelevant in the Middle East, and we certainly have the least influence in 40 years,” Mattis said.

As for Israel, Mattis sees, “West Bank settlements turning Israel into an apartheid state” reports Haaretz:

“I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel, and that moderates all the moderate Arabs who want to be with us, because they can’t come out publicly in support of people who don’t show respect for the Arab Palestinians,” Mattis said in 2013 at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

At the same forum he criticized Israel for settlement building, saying that the settlements “are going to make it impossible to maintain the two-state option.”

He said the settlements would undermine Israel as both a Jewish and Democratic state, and said the settlements would lead to apartheid.

“If I’m in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid,” he said.

His resume is impressive and is worth a full read.

The good folks at the Washington Free Beacon posted 16 of Mattis’ best quotes when he retired in 2013. They’re also worth a read. My favorites being: “Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit,” and “I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years,” both of which pretty well embody my life philosophy.

Presumably, Trump is confident passing the legislation required for Mattis to assume to role is in the bag. Hard to imagine him selecting someone to one of the most crucial cabinet posts without a way forward.

Here’s Mattis talking about leadership in a video posted in October:

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“No better friend, no worse enemy.”

My day is made. Semper Fi, Mr. Secretary.

Trump is assembling a team the members of which understand the nature of Islam. That Islam is a military/political system operating under a thin veneer of a religion.

DieJustAsHappy | December 1, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Retired Marine General James Mattis:
“You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”

Considering that much of the nation has been living in a “dream world” the last eight years, Mattis seems like just the man for the job.

    amatuerwrangler in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | December 2, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Should this appointment come to pass, the snowflakes are going to have to make reservations to get a spot in a safe place.

    We run the risk of making America a man again, casting off the metrosexual mantle of late.

While I hope that news is correct. Mattis? Oh yeah.
The report is from WaPo. I judge their reportage as equivalent to leakage from a garbage scow.

Personally I think Trump is toying with the major media….like a cat toys with a mouse.

General “Mad Dog” Mattis plus John “The Mustache” Bolton!

Finally a Secretary of Defense who actually knows something about fricking defense. Good Lord, Panetta and Carter were awful…stupid. Now start promoting the good colonels who haven’t been trashed by the Kenyan. S/F

Awesome if true.

Im waiting on Rags’s take on this white racist war monger being appointed by the worst president in the history of the United States of America 🙂

Will Trump have to wait until after the 20th of Jan to submit his request that Mattis be exempted or will they try to do that early with the possibility of Obama vetoing the exemption?

The WaPo has the real skinny this time, huh?

Its powers of prognostication have been awesome indeed, of late.

Uh-huh. Right. (Though I am semi-impressed that anybody at WaPo is even aware that General Marshall was ever Secretary of State.)

For better or worse, Trump isn’t likely to be the Shrinking Wallflower President. If and when he decides on a Secretary of State, he’ll make sure we know it … and he will not need the WaPo‘s help.


    This is Secretary of Defense.

    Secretary of State is a different position entirely.

      amatuerwrangler in reply to Chuck Skinner. | December 2, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      RE Geo. Marshall– He moved from Army Chief of Staff to be SecState (which does not have the 7-year rule) to run what we now know as the Marshall Plan; later on, still in the Truman Administration, Marshall was named SecDef which did require a Congressional waiver.

      This is mentioned only to illustrate that the current appointmant requiring a waiver is not “something new” and neither would a waiver, should it happen.

      We return you now to your normal programming…

Love the pick. Curious about the legal issues.

Politically — Will Rand Paul make a fuss about a “war-monger”? Will Democrats filibuster an “exemption” bill to let him serve?

Legally — Are there Constitutional issues with the idea that Congress can make a law limiting the President’s choice in cabinet officials?

    Milhouse in reply to clintack. | December 2, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Well, here’s a paper arguing that there is an issue. But a strong counterargument is that Congress created these offices in the first place, and therefore can define who can fill them.

    Lee Jan in reply to clintack. | December 2, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Congress passed a law that said the General must be out of the military for SEVEN years before he can be in the administration. He is only out of the military THREE years.
    Oh well, in Trump land laws are meant to be broken.

      Milhouse in reply to Lee Jan. | December 2, 2016 at 8:05 am

      In what way will the law be broken? The house’s waiver is a given. If the senate confirms, then it will have waived this too; if it doesn’t then the nomination dies anyway.

        mailman in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2016 at 8:30 am

        Only in the fevered mind of the committed leftist is there a problem (well, two problems really…first leftism and of course this manufactured problem).

      scaulen in reply to Lee Jan. | December 2, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Lee you must have been apoplectic for the past 8 years? The next four years is going to be incredibly tough for you, I just hope you can withstand all the law breaking.

Known for some time I think. It will be Mattis.

Another outstanding America first choice by an American president.

I have friends that are Marines that know him personally, they all say he is one of the best persons imaginable for the job.

Flyover Conservative | December 1, 2016 at 10:47 pm

My new boss. Works for me.

So much for Trump being the best friend Israel can have. Now we’ll have a SecDef who thinks Jews have no inherent right to live in Judaea, and sees those who do so as a problem. Worse, one who thinks Israel “sends” people to live here or there, like some sort of dictatorship, and presumably therefore that the Jews who live there are agents of the government, and it’s just fine to expel them from their homes whenever it suits the government, something that would never be accepted here in the USA. And one who thinks that not letting hostile aliens vote would be “apartheid”. Some friend.

    Well, the thing is that a cabinet member is not set loose to run rampant with their own agenda. While Mattis is indeed a huge supporter of an Obama/Kerry-style two state solution, his boss is not (or not that we know). Mattis is not going to strike out on his own and undermine Trump’s own agenda and policies any more than any Obama appointee did, including Mattis himself (who was in direct opposition to many of Obama’s policies and agenda items). What Trump probably saw and liked in Mattis is his understanding of the danger that Iran poses, the need to get rid of the bad Iran deal, and his absolute resolve in not defeating but in absolutely decimating ISIS.

    Mattis, however, is also an old-school Marine, and as Obama discovered much to his chagrin, will not be a “yes” man who demurely steps in to follow orders. Trump has to be aware of this and has to have discussed Israel and settlements with Mattis before offering him the job. Whatever Mattis said in that regard must have meshed with Trump’s own agenda. Either way, if Mattis goes rogue on Israel, Trump will have zero qualms ditching him. And if Trump wants Mattis to go “roque” on Israel, we’ll learn about that, too . . . when Trump lets him.

    All that said, Trump, I think, is himself a two-stater. And we all know that he has zero qualms about the state kicking little old ladies out of their homes for his limo parking lot, so let’s not be too surprised that he sees in Mattis something of himself in that regard.

      A defence secretary sets his own agenda on the everyday relationship; the president only dictates the big stuff. A hostile SecDef can do a lot of damage; remember Caspar Weinberger.

      Trump has to be aware of this and has to have discussed Israel and settlements with Mattis before offering him the job. Whatever Mattis said in that regard must have meshed with Trump’s own agenda.

      Which, as you point out, we don’t really know, but is not likely to be as pro-Israel as he pretended during the campaign. He wants to be the president who finally makes a deal, and he’ll quickly learn that one side is vulnerable to pressure and the other isn’t, so he’ll apply it where it works.

        mailman in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2016 at 8:32 am

        Im not surprised that you are wrong. The Defense Secretary, like the rest of the appointed positions, sets the positions dictated to them by the President. If the President can’t trust them to do that they wouldn’t be in the position they are in.

        I know its hard for you to understand this and yes, we are going to have to put up with this kind of blinkered thinking from your kind for the next 8 years but…well…your liberal tears are just so god damn delicious 🙂

          Milhouse in reply to mailman. | December 4, 2016 at 12:32 am

          “My kind”, eh? May I remind you that our host here is of my kind. You are a guest here; keep your bigotry hidden. And “liberal tears”?! Where the **** did you get that idea?

          As to the substance, you are simply wrong. Secretaries set their own agendas on day-to-day policy, and a hostile SecDef can do a lot of damage. Again, consider Caspar Weinberger. Do you imagine Reagan told him to behave the way he did?!

        iconotastic in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2016 at 3:50 pm

        You bring up a great point. If Trump appoints strong leaders as cabinet heads there is no way they will faithfully replicate his thinking (nor match Trump’s thought evolution). You are absolutely correct that there are many things that Mattis could do to ‘encourage’ changes in the Israeli positiion vis a vis granting Arabs yet another state and part of the Israeli capital. The SecDef answers to the CinC but also must answer to Congress wrt the law (at least up until the Obama administration).So there is room for mischief.

        My suspicion/belief is that Mattis is far too smart and competent to commit mischief for the sake of mischief though. Mattis will adhere to the law but I doubt he will manipulate the law to cause Israel trouble. However, YMMV

          Milhouse in reply to iconotastic. | December 4, 2016 at 12:34 am

          Again, Weinberger. He didn’t break any laws, and he didn’t defy direct orders from the president, but he managed to do a lot of harm.

It is currently against the law to have this General serve in the Trump administration. By law he must be out of the military for SEVEN years before being eligible. Oh well, T will simply demand a waiver from congress and voila.
Seems to be the Trump way.
This conservative is not amused. The laws were written for a purpose.

    Milhouse in reply to Lee Jan. | December 2, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Um, what problem do you have with asking congress for a waiver? If congress agrees then it’s not against the law; if it doesn’t then the appointment won’t happen.

      mailman in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2016 at 8:33 am

      The problem is not possessing the basic ability to rub 2 or more brain cells together.

      And yes Milly, Im also looking at you 🙂

        iconotastic in reply to mailman. | December 2, 2016 at 3:52 pm

        Bad form to so blatantly show that you cannot address Milhouse’s point by retreating to personal attack.

Best possible candidate to deal with our enemies. This is a shot across the bow for a lot of countries and sponsors of terrorism. The General knows how to deal with our enemies and has no qualms with holding the heal of his boot on their windpipes. He will not be fighting green house gasses or holding reach outs to our misunderstood enemies. Our enemies will be given a choice and if they don’t accept he will crush them. He has legions of followers that would gladly go to the gates of hell with him. This is a man that leads warriors and the motivation bump our military will get is well needed after years of bumbling and throwing away gains that were bloodily won.