US Defence Secretary quits over differences with Trump

Jim Marttis, US Defence Secretary and regarded as one of the more sensible in the Trump administration, has quit, not just adding to the significant staff churn but also losing one of the more stabilising members of the administration.

Republican supporters of trump has also

Reuters: U.S. allies in Asia-Pacific region rattled after Mattis quits

The abrupt resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sparked concern among Asia-Pacific allies who credit the retired general with building trust and tempering isolationist impulses, regional officials and analysts said on Friday.

Mattis, who embraced America’s traditional alliances, said he was quitting after falling out with President Donald Trump over foreign policy, including surprise decisions this week to pull troops from Syria and start planning a drawdown in Afghanistan.

“He has generally been referred to as one of the adults in the Trump administration,” Australian government Senator Jim Molan told The Australian newspaper.

He said his departure was concerning because it introduced “another extreme variable” into U.S. decision making.

Mattis’ departure also robs Australia, without a U.S. ambassador since 2016, of a key ally in the Trump administration.

“Australia has always had the ear of Mattis,” a U.S.-based diplomatic source told Reuters.

Australia has had roughly 800 troops in the Middle East since 2014, mostly based in Iraq, as part of coalition efforts to combat the Islamic State group.

About 300 troops are based in Afghanistan, where they have had a presence since not long after the war began 17 years ago.

Trump announced on Wednesday that U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawn, a decision that upended U.S. policy in the region.

A U.S. official said on Thursday Trump was planning to withdraw at least 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Mattis had advocated for a strong U.S. military presence to bolster diplomatic peace efforts there.

Telegraph: Republican backlash following scathing resignation of Jim Mattis should ring alarm bells for Trump

Even by the standards of the Trump administration, it has been an extraordinary 48 hours, culminating in the resignation of Jim Mattis.

The consensus is that the departure of the widely-admired Defence Secretary is a disaster, depriving the administration of one of the few grown-ups in the room.

If that were not enough, Trump has fallen out with two of his most vociferous cheerleaders, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and ultra-conservative firebrand columnist Ann Coulter.

Graham described the President’s decision to pull out of Syria as a “stain on the honour of the US.” Coulter rounded on him for failing to build his long-promised wall on the southern border.

MSNBC:  Mattis first ever secretary of defense to resign in protest

Fox News: Mattis resigning as Pentagon chief after clashes with Trump

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned Thursday after clashing with President Donald Trump over the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and after two years of deep disagreements over America’s role in the world.

Mattis, perhaps the most respected foreign policy official in Trump’s administration, will leave by the end of February after two tumultuous years struggling to soften and moderate the president’s hardline and sometimes sharply changing policies.

He told Trump in a letter that he was leaving because “you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”

It would be difficult for anyone to be aligned with the erratic Trump.

His departure was immediately lamented by foreign policy hands and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, who viewed the retired Marine general as a sober voice of experience in the ear of a president who had never held political office or served in the military. Even Trump allies expressed fear over Mattis’ decision to quit, believing him to be an important moderating force on the president.

Mattis, in his resignation letter, emphasized the importance of standing up for U.S. allies — an implicit criticism of the president’s decision on this issue and others.

“While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Mattis wrote.

It may be difficult for Trump to find a replacement anywhere near as respected as Mattis, Trump is tending more towards appointing people who will go along with his whims. The role of Defence Secretary is one of the most influential in international relations, so the resignation could have an impact around the world, especially if Trump replaces him with someone who won’t stand up to him.

And the problems aren’t just on defence and security.

Stuff: Under siege, Donald Trump propels US government and markets into crisis

US President Donald Trump began his day under siege, listening to howls of indignation from conservatives over his border wall and thrusting the government toward a shutdown.

He ended it by announcing the exit of the man US allies see as the last guardrail against the president’s erratic behaviour: Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation letter was a scathing rebuke of Trump’s worldview.

At perhaps the most fragile moment of his presidency, and vulnerable to convulsions on the political right, Trump single-handedly propelled the US government into crisis and sent markets tumbling with his gambits this week to salvage signature campaign promises.

The Dow Jones has slumped in the last week and took a further dive in Thursday (US time).

The president’s decisions and conduct have led to a fracturing of Trump’s coalition. Hawks condemned his sudden decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. Conservatives called him a “gutless president” and questioned whether he would ever build a wall. Political friends began privately questioning whether Trump needed to be reined in.

Is it possible to reign in when people like Mattis give up trying?

 

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19 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st December 2018

    Merry Xmas from President Trump. Looks like he decided if he is going to be criticised it might as well be for doing what he wants: building his wall and bringing troops home.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  21st December 2018

      He said ISIS has been totally defeated.

      This is Trump’s “Mission Accomplished” moment. And will most likely have a similar outcome to the last one. There are an estimated 30-40 Isis fighters still active in Iraq and Syria & they are now prominent in Afghanistan as well.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  21st December 2018

        *30-40,000

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st December 2018

        So he is leaving them to the Russians, Iranians and Turks to deal with?

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st December 2018

        Are you avoiding admitting that he is doing what you advocate in the M.E.?

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  21st December 2018

          No. I have explained elsewhere in World View why he is doing it badly and what the effect will be. Mattis is getting out because he can see the future & cannot be held responsible for the impending disaster and the US military being treated like Trump’s plaything. He was probably Trump’s most intelligent apointee.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  21st December 2018

            I read that stuff of yours. It seemed to be all over the place but you agreed with getting out of Afghanistan and grizzled about the risks in the M.E. Exactly what risks are there to the US in pulling out? Seems to me there are a whole lot of people far closer and at far more risk who need to do something about it long before the US needs to worry.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  21st December 2018

              Well I guess it would seem all over the place to you because you attribute sanity to everything Trump does and I won’t waste my or your valuable time explaining it further. I’m just going to watch what events unfold now with interest as I always do with the US and Middle East.

  2. duperez

     /  21st December 2018

    Munching on some lovely nuts and raisins reading about a nut with no ability to reason.😶

    Reply
  3. Griff.

     /  21st December 2018

    The wall will never be built.
    Humans have invented technologies that make it pointless .
    Drones ,Tunneling and ladders .
    Best thing yet is trumpets are running a go fund me for the wall.
    They have raised ten million so far.. at the present rate they will have enough money in 50 odd years .
    A fool and his money are soon parted .

    Reply
  4. Reply
    • Gezza

       /  22nd December 2018

      Best just to watch & wait. Commentary from various Aljaz tv reporters has been interesting. They have surprisingly good access to the bureaucracy & Congress.

      Trump has thrown the US Defence & State Departments, Congress, Republicans & Democrats, probably Bolton & Pompeo, who have this same week being continuing to talk of the need for continued US engagement, & allies (who the US sucked in to the mess they created in the Middle East & Afganistan) into chaos.

      There are several different scenarios for what might happen next – but the overriding caution from them all is – remember though, it’s Trump. Who knows what he’ll do or say 2 days later, a week later, a month or a year later?

      Has anything been happening that is causing Trump problems back home at this time?

      Reply

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