Small Wars Journal

Jim Mattis Book Excerpt: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism

Jim Mattis Book Excerpt: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism by Jim Mattis - Wall Street Journal

In late November 2016, I was enjoying Thanksgiving break in my hometown on the Columbia River in Washington state when I received an unexpected call from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Would I meet with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the job of secretary of defense?

I had taken no part in the election campaign and had never met or spoken to Mr. Trump, so to say that I was surprised is an understatement. Further, I knew that, absent a congressional waiver, federal law prohibited a former military officer from serving as secretary of defense within seven years of departing military service. Given that no waiver had been authorized since Gen. George Marshall was made secretary in 1950, and I’d been out for only 3½ years, I doubted I was a viable candidate. Nonetheless, I felt I should go to Bedminster, N.J., for the interview…

Read on.



Thu, 08/29/2019 - 7:03pm

First and foremost, thank you GEN Mattis for your service to our republic and the constitution. Semper Fi! However, I don’t find this as persuasive or important as others will. Doctrine haters will be tempted to misapply his characterization of doctrine - (please) don’t do that - as the fault of doctrine itself. That is not what he said; he was critiquing the unimaginative who shallowly adhere to the fallacy that doctrine is designed to solve one’s problems and it was sufficient to let the doctrine substitute for problem solving. No professional doctrine writer worth his salt would make that claim. It is rather rich then that the good general didn’t see that desperate times require imaginative measures where one - in this case the current POTUS - “throws the book away” and cracks some comfortable “corporate” rice bowls. Tribalist divisiveness did not begin with Trump. He is the antibody, not the disease. If you don’t see 23 trillion in debt, unrestrained 5G et. al. technocracy, weaponizing the government against domestic political enemies, two tiers of justice in the Land of Liberty, and half of America willing to junk the constitution we swore to defend as desperate times, then you have failed to recognize the real enemies general. And this is one former subordinate (and old Soldier) who will not salve your “mid-life” crisis of confidence. Try to enjoy the retirement you have definitely earned...’though the “war” is not over....