Jim Mattis is a guy who did several major jobs in the Federal Government and came out of it with no visible Napoleon complex. With the field of Presidential candidates full of would-be Napoleons and maybe a Stalin or two, naturally people wish he was on the ballot.
Hell, Napoleon Himself would look better, and he’s disqualified on two separate grounds, being dead, and French (yes, Corsican; but aren’t Puerto Ricans Americans? Corsicans are like French Puerto Ricans). Mattis:
Following his lecture on the Middle East and Iranian aggression, Mattis, the former four-star commander of U.S. Central Command and a current fellow at the Hoover Institution in California, implied he was mystified by the buzz surrounding his hypothetical candidacy.
“It’s been going on for 15 months. Since coming back from overseas, this is more of a foreign country than the places overseas,” he said. “I don’t understand it. It’s like America has lost faith in rational thought.”
Tell it, General. This is why people want you, even though it is an irrational thought; it’s less irrational than any of the remaining possibilities. One of which will come to pass.
He declined to comment on the current field of candidates, saying that 40 years as a naval officer had ingrained in him an aversion to taking a partisan stance.
via Mattis: ‘I Don’t Understand’ Speculation about Presidential Run | Military.com.
Some more examples of Mattis logic, something that’s been sadly lacking in what appears to be a bong-fired National Capital Area for quite a while:
Mattis’ remarks focused on Iran, which he characterized as the “single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East” …. And it’s clear from Iranian rhetoric and actions, he added, that the country’s leaders do not plan to act in good faith.
“[Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] summed it up very well when he said those who say that the future lies in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors,” Mattis said. “That is the Supreme Leader. I think we should take him at his word.”
It’s unfortunate to say this, but whose statements about the Middle East have better foreshadowed events, Khamenei’s or Obama’s?
At least we don’t call our guy, “Supreme Leader.” Any country with a “Supreme Leader” — the position for which at least two of our candidates seem to think they’re running — is a caricature of villainy.
In the face of the Iranian nuclear threat and clear hostile intentions and following an imperfect nuclear deal, the U.S. is in a “strategy-free mode,” he said, shifting attention from one region of the world to another without consistency.
Well, that’s what happens when you don’t understand foreign policy except as an extension of domestic politics.
“My point is, we’ve got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
You mean, like the one-major-one-regional war preparedness standard that the last several social-justice-over-readiness SecDefs and service secretaries have cut to ribbons. (And yeah, 15 years of war in Centcom, all gains completely undone by an unforced bugout, didn’t help).
“For a sitting U.S. president to see our allies as freeloaders is nuts.”
Only if he values those allies.
Congress, too, has failed, Mattis said.
Yeah. He named three specifics: no standby Iran sanctions (not the Obama would use them, even if Khamenei nuked Pearl Harbor). No AUMF against ISIL. No intelligence funding against our enemies in the Centcom area, like Iran. (And he could have mentioned, against our competitors in PacRim, where there’s an even bigger mess brewing.
“The bottom line on the American situation is that the next president is going to inherit a mess. That’s the most diplomatic word for it.” Iran is a “revolutionary cause devoted to mayhem.”
And what could we do to counter that?
“Worth more than 10 battleships or five armed divisions is a sense of American political resolve.”
Amen. And the thing is, the very reason those thoughts ring out with unexpected clarity for a Washington speech — Mattis delivered these remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Friday — is the same reason we don’t have Mattis as an option. The guy is simply too smart; unlike every single presidential candidate in the race, he has a grasp of the scope of the job, while the rest of them are deluding themselves that they can somehow pick up this dog-dropping of a task by the clean end.
In the end, the very common sense that keeps him on the sidelines is the exact thing that is lacking not just in Washington, but all along the Acela Corridor, where highly verbal people whose entire life has been coasting on their high SATs think that they can lever themselves out of any predicament with the right juxtaposition of words.
We have been reminded of this story about Mattis, a Marine Corps legend that turns out to be true. Enter then-Commandant General Charles Krulak, doing his USMC legend: delivering Christmas cookies to the duty Marines and duty officers at DC-area commands in 1998. Last stop was Marine Combat Development Command. And he asked the duty Marine who the OOD was:
“The young Marine said, ‘Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.’”
Krulak thought the Marine had misunderstood him, so he asked again, but he got the same answer.
“I looked around the duty hut and in the back, there were two cots: One for the officer of the day and one for young Marine. I said, ‘OK, let me cut through all of this: Who was the officer who slept in that bed last night?’
“And the Marine said, ‘Sir, Brigadier General Mattis.’”
At that moment, Mattis walked around the corner.
“So I said to him, ‘Jim, what are you standing the duty for?’ “And he said, ‘Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I’m a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.’ ”
Never before or since has Krulak run into a general officer standing duty on Christmas Day.
“I think it says volumes about Jim Mattis and his leadership style,” Krulak said. “He did it very unobtrusively. He just took the duty.”
One would like to think that other generals, like, say, George Washington, who for all his talents and strengths didn’t have this kind of common-man touch, are sending a Bravo Zulu down from Eternity for that.
And I don’t suppose we need to guess what that major (perhaps a retired colonel or general officer, by now, himself?) and his family think of Jim Mattis.
Prof. Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, has covered the Mattis story from his wise angle, also. His points were ably summed up by the USA Today subhead:
Retired general doesn’t want to be the one who cleans up Obama’s foreign policy mess, and who blames him?
Amen. Reynolds’s story is proof that great minds do, indeed, run on the same channel. (What they don’t do, these days, is run for office, evidently). Do Read The Whole Thing™.