Small Wars Journal

Mattis as Defense Secretary: What it Means for Us, For the Military, and For Trump

Mattis as Defense Secretary: What it Means for Us, For the Military, and For Trump by Thomas Ricks, Foreign Policy

I've known and admired General James Mattis (USMC, ret.) for years, and have written about him in a couple of books and in this blog. A few years ago, after Mattis was given the bum's rush into retirement by the Barack Obama administration, I described him as "a tough-minded realist, someone who'd rather have tea with you than shoot you, but is happy to end the conversation either way." Or, as he instructed his Marines in Iraq, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

Another memorable comment of his in Iraq, from my book Fiasco, was, "I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."

By contrast, I think President-elect Donald Trump will be a historic shambles, the Herbert Hoover of the 21st century. So it was with some surprise that I read Sunday morning that Mattis has become the frontrunner to become defense secretary. Trump tweeted Sunday morning that, "General James 'Mad Dog" Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General's General!"

So, if Mattis is picked, how is his tenure running the Defense Department likely to go? ...

Read on.


To Quote Dr. Russell: "[Mattis]…doesn’t belong in such a troubled Administration".

Interesting comment considering that the Administration she refers to hasn't been formed, much less sworn in yet.

Would it not benefit us all - if said Administration were so troubled - to have the leadership and character of someone like Mattis involved?


Tue, 11/22/2016 - 12:28pm

i will try to read Hicks with an open mind. However his inference that Trump will be the Hoover of the 21st Century only illicit this response; How can he do worse than Obama?
The Center Mr. Hicks is employed by has provided numerous think tankers to the Obama administration. Maybe they are too oblivious of reality but they need to take a check if this is the opening round fired at Trump. Wow.
A little shaky about your future and your Center's with the new administration, self-invested perhaps?
My advice for President elect Trump is, don't take any from losers. Find winners to get advice from instead or you will do worse than Obama.