Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a celebrated Marine general who resigned his top Pentagon post in 2018 because he disagreed with president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and leave allies defenseless, Wednesday said Trump is dividing Americans and ignoring the Constitution.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in the Atlantic.
“We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” he continued. “We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
Trump responded, as usual, with two lies and personal insults on Twitter.
“Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about. His nickname was ‘Chaos’, which I didn’t like, & changed it to ‘Mad Dog’,” Trump said in his tweets. “His primary strength was not military, but rather personal public relations. I gave him a new life, things to do, and battles to win, but he seldom ‘brought home the bacon’. I didn’t like his ‘leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree. Glad he is gone!”
First, Mattis quit, because he felt Trump left allies in danger by his decision to pull out of Syria, which resulted in many deaths of those allies. Second, the military call sign, “Chaos” and nickname “Mad Dog” were part of the general’s legend before the terms of either Obama or Trump.
In addition, Former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly Thursday said Trump was lying in his claim that he fired Mattis. Kelly said Mattis resigned and he also praised the general and his work.
Mattis has not responded publicly about Trump’s actions and misdeeds since his departure from the Pentagon but now says he is “angry and appalled” over Trump’s increasingly incendiary acts in events this week and adds that he feels protestors “are right to demand equal justice under the law.”
“It is a wholesome and unifying demand — one that all of us should be able to get behind,” he wrote. “We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation.”
Mattis disagreed strongly with the use of troops to repel peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets to clear a patch for Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley for a widely discredited “photo op” so Trump could hold a Bible as a prop in front of St. Johns Episcopal Church, after declaring he would use troops to “dominate” protestors in the streets.
When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.
Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.
Esper, who called the streets where people protested “battlespaces,” now says “in retrospect, I would use different wording.”
“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations,” Esper said. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”
Trump, however, is threatening to use the Insurrection Act against protesters.”
The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square.
We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.
Mattis is not the only former military leader to call out Trump.
Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush, said this of Trump’s photo-op:
Whatever Trump’s goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.
The Trump administration has “warned” current military leaders of actions if they speak out.
Former president Bush says he is also unhappy with Trump’s stunts.
“There is a better way — the way of empathy, and shared commitment, and bold action, and a peace rooted in justice,” Bush said in the statement. “I am confident that together, Americans will choose the better way.”
“We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” he added.
Copyright © 2020 Capitol Hill Blue