A Wiser Man Speaks …

mattisGeneral James Norman Mattis served 44 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, commanding forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.  After his retirement, Mattis served as the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through January 2019.  His resignation came about as a result of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, leaving the area vulnerable, but Mattis had disagreed with Trump on a number of issues before, such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.  I have tremendous respect for General Mattis, and thus I am sharing an OpEd he wrote that was published in The Atlantic yesterday.

In Union There Is Strength

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.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

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. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis

55 thoughts on “A Wiser Man Speaks …

  1. Thank you for sharing!.. Donald Trump is on a ego trip, he thinks he is “king” and his word is law, whatever it may be.. he has been that way all his life… his “foundation” is starting to crumble as more and more people oppose his ideology… more and more of his “cronies” are starting to jump ship trying to save themselves… November 3 should prove interesting.. 🙂

    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
    ( Maria Robinson )

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right, my friend … he will never change, for this is who or what he has been since childhood. November 3rd will indeed be interesting … ulcer-inducing, and possibly the beginning or an 11-week reign of terror, for we all know he will not go without putting up a fight, and without inciting his followers to bring about chaos.


  2. Mattis is the kind of General men are willing too follow through thick and thin because he plays fair and looks after his men. The constitution is important to him and he will follow it to the letter. Some won’t and it would be good if he could remove those from power for the sake of the country now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Every one of the people I heard or read about in the news today (except the Fox talking heads) had immense respect for Mattis. I didn’t hear a single negative word against him, and even McConnell didn’t criticize. Yes, it would be good if we could remove those who are trashing the Constitution, but it will need to be done on November 3rd, and I’m not sure how many will actually be removed then. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Words from three Republican Senators in support of General James Mattis’ comments | musingsofanoldfart

  4. When Mattis (Call sign “Chaos”) speaks, EVERYONE should listen carefully. This is one of the most respected men to ever wear the uniform. I served for 20-years…. I speak from experience. I’ve been saying for a while now that he would eventually say “enough is enough” and that time has come. Do not be surprised if a substantial event happens in the coming days and weeks… a “change” in our government leadership.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I fully agree. I’ve been reading comments in the news by a number of people today, and other than the Fox talking heads, everybody said how much they respected Mattis. Now I am intrigued … I will keep my eyes open for such a change! It would have to be an improvement!


  5. Better late than never, Jill. It took him a while. But that’s ok. He said what’s needed to be said for a long time. What I’d like to see now, is for current members of his administration to start resigning in protest. I feel like maybe the current military leadership is starting to fracture away from the idiot. I hope that’s true. When former respected people like Mattis, and former Joint Chief’s Chairman Mike Mullen begin speaking out, I hope it brings a little cover for others to do the same. Mutiny on the Bounty? We should be so lucky…..

    Liked by 5 people

    • Agreed. Mattis has said very little since he resigned, but boy when he did, he said it loud and clear! I was also pleased that former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly supported Mattis against Trump, as did a few others. Too few, but it’s a start. Like you, I’d like to see some begin resigning in protest, or speaking their minds publicly. Did you hear about the bimbo press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany comparing Trump to Winston Churchill? I was eating a pretzel when I read that and damn near choked! I’m still finding bits of pretzel in my keyboard!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did hear that comparison. My God. Remember her first words to the media when she started this gig? “I will never lie to you” which of course was her first lie!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Heh heh … we all knew it was a lie from the start. I just don’t understand how she can sleep at night, knowing she is doing the dirty work of a monster? Ah well, I’ve used the term before and I will use it again … a blonde bimbo … just the type Trump likes, for they haven’t the capacity to think for themselves.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Weaponizing the military against it’s own citizens is a disaster in the making, have we learned nothing of militarizing our police force? Trump is a dunce, he doesn’t see the consequence of his actions. You can’t solve racism with force, only love, compassion, understanding and making amends. This patriarchal privileged elitist mentality has got to go. Yet we keep electing these old farts into office, and that’s by design.
    I believe the Democratic Party can dominate politics if they promote a younger person into office with fresh ideas and renewed sense of hope….. someone like Barack Obama! They had a winning formula, why screw it up with with an anachronistic old dodder like Biden I’ll never understand. Also Joe Biden is a flaming racist, his record is terrible! Yet thank god Biden will win despite himself! Dumb and Dumber.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Jill, thank you for sharing these powerful words from a well-thought of leader. We should remind folks when the inevitable tweets and comments denigrating Mattis (I see a “loser” comment coming) from Trump and his sycophants start coming out later today, that Republican leaders begged Mattis not to leave as Sec. of Defense in December, 2018. They saw him as the “last of the Mohicans” to intervene between the president’s rash, chaotic and/ or inane pronouncements. Same guy, but some will now rake him over the coals to protect their king, rather than heed his dead-on accurate words.

    Thanks for sharing them, Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Trump wasted no time tweeting about Mattis’ words, and in his tweet, he made two lies. First he said he fired Mattis … he didn’t, Mattis resigned. Then he said he was the one who gave Mattis the nickname “Mad Dog” … another lie, as I believe Mattis had that nickname long before he left the military. I’m chuffed to see some notables standing by Mattis’ side on this, such as John Kelly and Lisa Murkowski. I saw a clip of a Fox commentary where the hosts pretended shock that a former cabinet member would speak against Trump. Sheesh. Yes, some will rake him over the coals, but it seems that some are awakening. Fingers crossed.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jill, I called and applauded the three GOP Senators who supported Mattis’ comments, which are dead-on accurate. I also called Lindsey Graham and Ron Johnson to echo my support for Mattis’ words, since they downplayed them. To all five I shared that I hoped this is a tipping point and reminded them of George Will’s editorial earlier in the week. That Trump anchor around the GOP’s neck is getting heavier. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good for you! I’d like to call Senator Tom Cotton and give him a large piece of my mind! Yes, I imagine it is getting harder and harder to look people in the eye and say that Trump is doing good things. Even Mitch McConnell could not bring himself to condemn Mattis.


          • GIve him a call or send him an email. Tom Cotton is the principal behind unwinding the Trump/ Graham/ Durbin $25 billion for the wall for DACA deal. He caused Trump to utter his “s**thole countries remark.

            Liked by 1 person

              • Jill, after agreeing with Graham and Durbin in the morning on the deal ($25 billion for wall for DACA becoming law), Cotton and a couple of others went to the White House and told the president not to make the deal as he could continue to win on the wall issue and let DACA run out. Now, the one centerpiece of his campaign, as misguided as it was, is “Build that Wall.” Durbin agreed to give him $25 billion for it and Trump backed away after agreeing.

                That was a put up or shut up moment. By the time Graham and Durbin got there in the afternoon, Trump said he would not sign and made his famous “s**thole countries remark.” This is an under-discussed problem that Trump has – he wastes people’s time to come up with things and then changes his mind willie-nillie. He did that on revising NAFTA, which occurred eight months later because of Trump and I just read it this morning he did it with the RNC Convention whose negotiators were close to agreement with Charlotte, but Trump unwound the efforts.

                Sorry for the longer response than you needed. Keith

                Liked by 1 person

  8. Trump is looking for a war victory. He wants his Roman Triumph so people can rightly lift him up on a pedestal. He was a clear threat to his so called friends in Europe now he’s a threat to his very own people. Apart from those who walk about with anti Clinton shirts and carry assault rifles.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right, for remember when he finally had no choice but to acknowledge that the coronavirus needed to be taken seriously, and he called himself “a wartime president”. I nearly gagged on that one. But, isn’t it ironic that he was a draft-dodger when he could have served, but now he wants to a war victory? He is, I believe, a threat to all life on earth. I still think that if he feels backed into a corner, he wouldn’t hesitate to use his nuclear ‘button’. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wise and necessary words in testing times
    Naturally The Asshat in Chief was quick to blather off some inconsequential rebuttal (emphasis on the second syllable).
    It’s unlikely under the Posse Comitatus Act restrictions the idiot in chief could have the constitutional right to call out the army.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, I saw Trump’s rebuttal which contained at least two lies … one that he fired Mattis, for he didn’t … Mattis resigned when Trump decided to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria … it was rather the last straw. And the other was something to do with the nickname “Mad Dog”, which Trump claimed he gave to Mattis, when in fact Mattis had been known as Mad Dog long before he left the military.

      You’re right that he could likely not use the Act constitutionally, but when has that stopped him? He’s burned and shredded the Constitution so many times already that I’m not sure it even still exists. Sigh.

      Liked by 2 people

        • His schmuckery gets worse by the day. He literally sickened me today with his comments linking the economy to George Floyd’s brutal murder and above all, patting himself on the back. Roger, I swear, I’m gonna find some way to kill that sorry excuse for a human being!

          Liked by 1 person

          • It would only make him a martyr in the eyes of his creators. Some of whom would go seeking like-for-like.
            Leave him to History to be humiliated and shredded.
            One suggestion, which has a style which appeals to my own idea of politics.
            Whenever you post up:
            1. Do not show a picture of him, only a blank space.
            2. Never refer to him by name only by such titles as ‘That freak of the voting System’.
            These acts remove his personality from the equation and serve to:
            a) Reduce him in stature.
            b) Give someone who is an egotist their just deserts by taking away their image.
            You should also encourage your friends and associates to do the same.
            Dilute his image.
            It’s a classic piece of the subtler type of political assassination. Denigration by a thousand distains.
            Think about it 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Mattis may speak truth, but it is not the whole truth. The words of the Declaration of Independence sound fantastic, but when they were written, it was by white men, for white men. Blacks, browns, reds, and other colours of skin were NOT men yet, nor were any women men. These savages and animals and baby machines were NOT AFFORDED HUMANITY. And look how long it took for these other “beings” to gain personhood.
    Yes, it was the times–that is why the constitution must be read as it was written to understand where these deep deep feelings came from. Men, meaning white men, have been losing their privilege little by little ever since, first to people of colour, and then to women. They, white men, are scared to death if they give up that privilege, everyone else will retaliate for past hatreds and deeds. It is a baseless fear. No one in the world is as hate-filled based on skin-colour as men without colour.
    Please, let us put colour aside, and put the places where we were born aside. WE ARE ALL EARTHLINGS TOGETHER. ALL LIVING BEINGS ARE EARTHLINGS TOGETHER. What else do we need to know?

    Liked by 8 people

    • While I agree with all you say, Mattis wasn’t attempting to address all the evils of the nation! He was only attempting to give his views of Trump’s threat to use military force against the people … any and all people of any and all colours … of this nation. We cannot solve all the problems in a single 800-word essay, my friend. We have to take them one at a time, and at this moment, Mattis was attempting to address the huge threat to all of us by the imposition of martial law.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s