Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has not said much about his time in the Trump administration since resigning in December. That’s about to change.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from his forthcoming book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, in which the guy nicknamed “Mad Dog” laments American isolationism and the tribalism overtaking our politics.
Mattis, who resigned over Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria, takes issue in the essay with Trump’s “America First” doctrine, writing, “Wise leadership requires collaboration; otherwise, it will lead to failure.” He adds, “Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither. Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy.”
“Absent this,” Mattis writes, “we will occupy an increasingly lonely position, one that puts us at increasing risk in the world.”
While he does not criticize Trump by name, it’s clear whom Mattis is referring to when he writes, “A polemicist’s role is not sufficient for a leader. A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed.”
Mattis also addresses a problem that he believes is bigger than any external adversary — “our internal divisiveness.”
“We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future, instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding solutions,” he writes. It’s little mystery who’s responsible for that.
As for his departure from the government last year, Mattis writes that he left the Defense Department “when my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated.”
“Using every skill I had learned during my decades as a Marine,” he writes, “I did as well as I could for as long as I could.”