'Jaw-dropping': Mattis resignation puts USA in 'uncharted territory'
- Author: Rogelio Becker Dec 22, 2018,
Dec 22, 2018, 2:20
The ongoing game of musical chairs at the White House completed another turn Thursday as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis tendered his resignation, citing foreign policy beliefs at odds with President Trump's agenda.
Trump has surrounded himself with former military men and shown an uncharacteristic public deference toward Mattis, a bookish 68-year-old who has disagreed with the president behind the scenes on issues from Russian Federation to Iran to accepting transgender soldiers.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people. It was also reported on Thursday that Trump is considering to withdraw a significant number of troops from Afghanistan.
A senior USA defense official told Fox News that Mattis was not pushed out of his role and this was not a forced resignation.
Experts said Mattis's departure could mean more impulsive decisions that alienate United States allies-for instance, withdrawing USA troops from South Korea or unilaterally pulling out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Sanders said that Mr. Trump did not ask Mattis to resign. "I would anticipate that we will see more, if not serious actions like withdrawal from alliances, but more obnoxious posturing from the administration". Fox News has learned new details of the final moments that led the hardened Pentagon leader to march his resignation letter to the White House, setting off speculation - and bipartisan concern - about the direction Trump's foreign policy will take in the new year, especially with John Kelly leaving as White House chief of staff.
But despite his initial influence, Mattis has been losing battles with the president for months.
Menedez continued: "Clearly, Secretary Mattis" resignation was prompted by the President's flawed and hasty decision to withdraw our troops from Syria.
Mattis' celebrated military career spanned four decades. The defense secretary was also miffed that the president, against his advice, ordered the creation of a separate Space Force. His tenure was marked by numerous reports of disagreements with Trump, who once described him as "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience".
Trump has stood by his Syria decision, telling detractors that the pullout should come as "no surprise" given his 2016 campaign promises and arguing that America's role as "Policeman of the Middle East" is not worth the sacrifice.
U.S. lawmakers across the political spectrum voiced concern over a rebirth of the Islamic State group in Syria and sounded an alarm as Mattis unmoors from the unpredictable administration.
In the end, Mattis resigned voluntarily, a senior US defense official told FP.
Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser, said Trump was entitled to a Pentagon chief with whom he could agree.
Mattis' letter - which was distributed to the press when he resigned - ends with a stunning rebuke of Trump: "Because you have the right to a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position".
Mattis' departure comes on the same day Sen.
However cynical Trump's motives, there is no question that there is enormous popular hostility to the never-ending U.S. wars in the Middle East. According to one USA administration official, Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is a "serious" contender.