Whoa! Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lets the world know who’s in charge


Whoa! Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lets the world know who’s in charge


James N. Mattis / Flickr 170710 D SV709 186...
James N. Mattis / Flickr

Just as the full story is coming out of the plot between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to steal the 2016 election, Defense Secretary James Mattis has spoken truth on behalf of America about the murderous Russian mobster-president.  Per Time:

(WASHINGTON) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday took aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of trying to “muck around” in the U.S. midterm elections, of duplicity in arms control and of acting irresponsibly in last weekend’s naval confrontation with Ukraine.

In remarks at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, Mattis said the U.S.-Russian relationship has deteriorated over the last two years.

“We are dealing with someone that we simply cannot trust,” he said. “There is no doubt the relationship has worsened.”

Mattis did not elaborate on his claim that Russia tried to interfere in last month’s elections, adding only, “We are seeing a continued effort along those lines.” He added more generally, “It’s his efforts to try to subvert democratic processes that must be defended.”

I never thought Mattis was a toady.  Remember that nauseating dinner flattery-fest at the White House last year, when everyone around the table made homage to Trump, saying they thanked God for the opportunity to work for him, and so on?  There was just one person who did not kiss the orange ass, but rather maintained a dignified silence: James Mattis.

Mattis has made independent announcements about military policy also, for instance saying that NATO remains and will remain strong when Putin’s intention is the exact opposite.

However this, Mattis criticizing Putin directly and specifically for interfering in American elections, is unprecedented.  And it’s nervy.  Imagine castigating the person who put your boss in his position for doing so, then meeting him at work on Monday morning.  Mattis specifically mentions the midterms, but says Russia “tried again”, and mentions “a continuing effort,” pointing implicitly to 2016.

The basic message here, as I interpret it, is both to Americans and to the world: “Don’t worry, the American military is still sane and loyal to the Constitution and the American people, and will act in America’s national interest.  You can ignore the treasonous antics of the Commander-in-Chief.”

Never has an American president so had his feet cut out from under him, been treated so much as if he is illegitimate—yes, I think that message is there, too.  Never has he so been pushed aside.

It’s stunning: but it is appropriate and in fact necessary under the circumstances.  It is also carefully timed; Mattis has probably had it in his back pocket and was waiting for the right moment.  Power is an agreement between people, nothing more, and Trump’s is slipping away each day as the truth about his “victory at the polls” comes out and people rescind their agreements to his power.  When that happens it can leave a vacuum, which can be very dangerous militarily.  Mattis is also letting Americans and the world know that the vacuum is being filled.

Another message I take from this concerns the threat, mentioned often in comments here and elsewhere, of another American civil war.  When I first heard that, my first thought was, “If it happens, which side will the military take?” and the first person I thought of was Mattis.  This is a country with a very powerful military, the most powerful on the planet.  If a usurper wants to seize control of such a country, he must have the head of the military on his side.

I think Mattis is implicitly making it very clear—to Americans, to the world, and to Trump—which side the military will take.  He is stating that the Trump-Putin plot to steal elections and subvert democracy is wrong, and is a threat to America.  It doesn’t get more clear than that.

If I hadn’t already expected that this would be Mattis’s position, I’d find these comments of his the most heartening words from anyone that I’ve heard since that black day in November 2017.

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