Last week, I attended an event at the American Enterprise Institute. It was a podcast summit which was a joint venture between AEI and Ricochet.

I watched several podcasts taped live, and while they were all informative and entertaining, the crown jewel was an interview with Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Mattis was interviewed by Hoover Institution scholar Peter Robinson, who you may have seen in a series of videos called Uncommon Knowledge. For anyone not in the know, Robinson was a speech writer for President Reagan and penned the famous phrase “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

The interview was taped and when the video or audio becomes available, I will add it to this post. I wish every American could have been in the room to see the whole thing. Mattis is not a large man, but what he lacks in stature, he more than makes up for in inner strength which permeated the room of enthralled listeners.

Robinson used the “Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States of America” as a guide for the interview, methodically touching upon each threat posed to America and their remedies, as prescribed by Mattis.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

The Department of Defense’s enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation. Should deterrence fail, the Joint Force is prepared to win. Reinforcing America’s traditional tools of diplomacy, the Department provides military options to ensure the President and our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength.

Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding. We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.

China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors. As well, North Korea’s outlaw actions and reckless rhetoric continue despite United Nation’s censure and sanctions. Iran continues to sow violence and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability. Despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate, threats to stability remain as terrorist groups with long reach continue to murder the innocent and threaten peace more broadly.

The entire document is less than 15 pages long and you can read the whole thing here.

Mattis defines America’s strategy in three categories:

1. Build a More Lethal Force
2. Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners
3. Reform the Department for Greater Performance and Affordability

Mattis is a man who believes you go to war to win. He also demonstrates great humility when describing the massive budget he has been given by American taxpayers.

He believes in the ability of the American military to inspire our friends and enemies alike. He told a story of a prisoner who was brought to him after being caught trying to plant a roadside improvised explosive device and the conversation he had with the man, who asked him if model prisoner behavior at Gitmo would eventually qualify him to become a U.S. citizen.

Robinson brought out the personal side of Mattis as well, asking him about his enlistment in the Marines at age 18 and why he would want his current job at his age. The bottom line is that Mattis is a man who believes in service to his country.

Trump has picked some outstanding people for his administration. I came away from this event believing Mattis is the best one.

Until we get the audio or video, here are some tweets which will give you a sense of the event.

This tweet shows how great my seat was. That’s me, on the left:

Listening to Mattis speak in this forum made me feel better about the state of our military and the dangerous world in which we live. The Trump administration would be wise to have this man speak directly to the American people.

UPDATE: The video has now been posted. Watch the whole thing below:


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