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.