Tag: James Mattis

Quote of the Day: War


“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” – James Mattis

We are seeing an application of this in real-time as the war in Ukraine unwinds. Certainly, Russia has learned the enemy gets a vote. Their three-day war has turned into a month-long quagmire (literally in the north, with its Rasputitsa “mud season”). Now the Russians are declaring victory in Ukraine, claiming their goal was to liberate the Donbas and that has been achieved. Of course, the enemy, Ukraine, gets a vote. They have begun limited counteroffensives, and Russia may not find it easy to end the war by declaration as Russia hopes.

Institutionalized Experts


“HANLON’S RAZOR: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” -– Murphy’s Law Book Two: More Reasons Why Things Go Wrong

Malice is a fun and easy explanation for the conduct of bureaucrats and politicians we dislike or distrust. Substituting stupidity for malice still lets us feel good in the moment. However, there are very senior experts in many fields within large organizations connected with networks of other large organizations, who are not stupid and who are not self-evidently malicious. Their conduct, when it seems to contradict observable facts and theory, might be better characterized as “institutionalized expertise.”

Chaos on Chaos


Retired general and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, call sign Chaos, denounced President Trump’s riot response in a statement published in The Atlantic, upon which of course ensued reciprocal disparaging comments. Was he right? Does his statement have merit? Here are takes from the Washington Times and The Hill, two news sources not considered full-blown Leftists. Following is Mattis’ full statement (bold emphases mine), and my take:

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

James Mattis Compares Donald Trump to Nazis in Statement to The Atlantic


In a statement given to the Leftist magazine The Atlantic, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis compared his former boss President Donald Trump to Nazis. Mattis wrote:

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis making an urgent plea to end political tribalism because a unified America is a stronger America.  They’re also sad to learn that health problems are forcing the retirement of Georgia GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson and they’re also not thrilled that there’s another Republican-held seat headed to the ballot in 2020.  And they discuss why the allegations of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar may raise legal issues and possibly complicate her political future.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America look through a rough and often disturbing 2017 to find three things they’re each thankful for in politics and beyond this year.  From some important accomplishments to the arrival of an important new figure in Washington to the bravery of people in different walks of life, Jim and Greg find some silver linings in our toxic political culture.  Happy Thanksgiving!  There will be no podcast on Thursday.  Please join us again on Friday.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America actually welcome the increasing chatter from the left and from the op-ed pages for Democrats to embrace full repeal of the Second Amendment as a way of drawing clear lines in the gun debate.  They also wince as three top Trump cabinet officials reportedly agree to a so-called “suicide pact,” meaning all three will leave office if President Trump fires one of them.  And they slam Michelle Obama for another round of horrible statements, this time claiming people don’t trust politics because Republicans are supposedly all men and all white.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are glad to see Kim Jong-Un has publicly back down from his threats to fire missiles towards Guam and discuss whether some new blunt talk from Defense Secretary James Mattis made the decision an easy one.  David rejects the push by the left and some on the right to move or remove Confederate memorials and statues and instead proposes more memorials to honor Union, slave, and free black figures from the war to provide more context.  And they roll their eyes as an ESPN commentator says he hopes a positive outcome from Charlottesville will be Colin Kaepernick getting a job in the NFL again.

David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the “tough guy” stance that President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis are taking in deterring further chemical attacks in Syria. They dive into the complications surrounding the healthcare debate, as Mitch McConnell scraps the vote on the most recent GOP bill and many of the Republicans opposed believe the government should be doing more. Finally, they discuss the PC complaints that the new Dunkirk film — a historical World War II drama  — is “too white,” even though the vast majority of soldiers involved were white.

Richard Epstein weighs the merits of President Trump’s decision to strike Syria after the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.

Member Post


As recently reported General Mad Dog Mattis met with NATO allies and made a rather non-mad request to other NATO members: “Pay your fair share for your own security”. Matties continued “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values”. Of the 28 members of NATO (the world’s […]

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Mattis to NATO Allies: Pay Your Fair Share


Defense Secretary James Mattis met in Brussels Wednesday with the defense ministers of our NATO allies. His message was characteristically honest and blunt:

“I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis said. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.”

…Mattis, a retired Marine general, recalled Wednesday that when he was NATO’s supreme allied commander of transformation from November 2007 to September 2009, he watched as then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned NATO nations that Congress and the American people “would lose their patience for carrying a disproportionate burden” of the defense of allies.

Citizen Mattis: The Importance of Civilian Control of the Military


One of the most difficult problems of any society is to establish a proper relationship between civilian authority and military power. Even before the Constitutional Convention, Americans were familiar with the problems of armies, and many delegates were fearful that a standing army would be a vehicle for despotism. Many of their concerns were highlighted in The Declaration of Independence as they noted several grievances of the violation of their liberties directly attributed to a standing army (Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures, the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power, quartering large bodies of armed troops, protecting [the British military] by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States.)

The Constitution in 1787 made of point of having a check on the military’s power by civilian authorities. Congress was given the sole power to declare war, to lay and collect taxes for the common defense, and they were responsible for raising and supporting armies. The President was made Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, and of the militia. This arrangement strengthened the civilian control of the military, and provided protection from having the sword and purse in a single hand. Jim Mattis’s nomination as the incoming Secretary of Defense doesn’t violate any constitutional principles, but does raise come concerns over the relationship between civilian leaders and their military counterparts.

When the Department of Defense was created in 1947, there was a specific provision that called for the Secretary of Defense to “be appointed from civilian life by the President…That a person who has within ten years been on active duty as a commissioned officer in a Regular component of the armed services shall not be eligible for appointment as Secretary of Defense.”  The concern of the 80th Congress was similar to that of the Founders: a career military professional who controls the military can be a danger to the liberty of citizens. Mattis retired from active duty only three years ago, and therefore he will need Congress to grant him waiver if he is to serve as the new Secretary of Defense.

Member Post


Maximilian Uriarte is an artist from Oregon who decided he needed some “real life” experience in the world and decided to find it as a grunt in the United States Marine Corps. His most famous creation to date is Terminal Lance, a cartoon strip about the life of the enlisted. It was so popular among […]

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Our Soldiers Are NOT Victims


Were you shocked by the combat scenes in “American Sniper?” Do you find yourself worrying about the price our soldiers pay–about how many must suffer post-traumatic stress disorder?

A recently retired four-star general in the United States Marine Corps has a suggestion for you:  Knock it off. Our soldiers aren’t victims, and there’s such a thing as post-traumatic growth.

Uncommon Knowledge: James Mattis on the Virtues of ROTC


In the most recent episode of Uncommon Knowledge, I had the pleasure of sitting down with James Mattis — retired U.S. Marine Corps General, former Commander of U.S. Central Command, and now Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution — for a wide-ranging conversation about the military and national security. In this first clip from that conversation, I ask him how one makes the case for ROTC to young people today. His answer below: