Gen. James Mattis is an odd pick for President-elect Donald Trump’s new secretary of defense. In stark contrast to Trump’s campaign promises to put America first, Mattis has a long history of promoting globalism and perpetual war. Could Mattis be the globalists’ Trojan horse, who will ensure the internationalists’ gravy train doesn’t end?
By Matthew Raphael Johnson
With President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Gen. James Mattis to be his secretary of defense, Trump has brought a very different vision into the executive branch.
Mattis is part of the neoconservative movement and does not, generally speaking, hold to the “America first” mindset of the president-elect. In his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in 2014, he said on the “ISIS threat” that, “The geography of the globalized world does not permit us to look away as if this is not our problem.” This is an unambiguous statement in favor of constant war, and a globalized world policed by the U.S.
The most problematic aspect of Mattis is that he is on the board of directors for the Center for a New American Security. Boeing, a major defense industry player, the Japanese government, and the ultra-liberal Carnegie Corporation are the group’s largest donors as of last year. Soros’s Open Society Foundations, along with James Murdoch, Lockheed, Bank of America, and Goldman are among the extensive list of other donors. The group has recently called for the overthrow of the popular Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte.
Earlier this year, the center published a paper by Alexander Velez-Green, titled “The United States and Russia Are Already at War,” stating the following:
Russia’s unconscionable weaponization of the Syrian refugee crisis represents this paradigm in action. For instance, Moscow’s initiative may yet undermine the Hungarian liberal establishment and push the country toward a more permanently xenophobic political footing. If that happens, it will be like one of the 28 screws holding NATO together unwinding just enough to weaken neighboring screws. The ongoing uptick in nationalism in Europe—aided by Russia-backed far-right European political parties—suggests that this is not an idle fear. Left untended, this unwinding could shatter the alliance’s unified front.
As a member of the board of directors, Mattis approved this article and its contents. The liberal ideology of the center is clear. This ideology is essential to the center: It’s called “the liberal order” by its main writers.
This is the general’s political agenda. This liberal agenda, one to be imposed and maintained by force, is evident in Mattis’s own words as well.
The board of directors is a populist’s nightmare.
Denis Bovin, an elite banker and a high-ranking member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), also sits on the board. Lewis Kaden is a member of both the Trilateral Commission and the CFR, while board member William Kennard is part of the Carlyle Group. David Schwimmer is the co-chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs’s “Business in Russia/CIS” division and head of Investment Banking for Russia and Eastern Europe. The CEO of the center is Michele Flournoy, the under-secretary of defense for Obama and a member of the CFR. This group comprises the same elites that sought to destroy Trump.
In 2013, Mattis told USA Today, “Those who want to say girls don’t go to school, sure I’m all for killing them, or stopping them, and if that means killing them, you do it.”
Apart from the fact that no Islamic faction holds to this doctrine, this quotation strongly implies that American violence abroad has an ideological component: Islamic or traditionalist ethics is not only wrong, but is sufficient cause for mass slaughter.
In a similar vein, he said, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
Mattis was the Marine commander during the battle of Fallujah in Iraq. Speaking about such experiences, he told a panel discussion in California in 2005: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. . . . It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.” This sort of talk is rare for real combat veterans. The general is certainly combat experienced, but this sort of rhetoric seems more aimed at painting an image than speaking the truth.
In terms of policy, his neoconservative background comes out in his views on Iran.
In a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he said: “Every morning I woke up and the first three questions I had, had to do with Iran, and Iran, and Iran. It remains the single most belligerent actor in the Middle East.”
He added in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in 2014:
Having dealt with this enemy since 1979 . . . we are up against an enemy that means what they say and we should not patronize them. When they say “girls don’t go to school” you’re not going to talk them out of it . . . their views of the role of women, their views of modernity, their views of tolerance for people who think differently are fundamentally different than ours.
This suggests that being against modernism is cause for war with the United States.
In that same speech to the committee, Mattis also stated that Assad was engaged in a “genocidal” war against the Sunnis in Syria. This, he implied, was the reason ISIS became the main fighting force in the area. He offered no evidence.
Thomas E. Ricks, in his book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005, wrote that Mattis said to local tribal leaders in Iraq: “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I’ll kill you all.” If this is true, then Mattis is not merely playing a role, but might well be unbalanced.
The media has engaged in a bloodthirsty assault on Trump since he announced his candidacy. Suddenly, this was suspended. Very little public criticism is available against Mattis. There is a reason for this.
Matthew Raphael Johnson, Ph.D. lives in Pennsylvania. His latest books Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin and The Third Rome: Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy are available from TBR Book Club.