Bryan Caskey complains via email, “We gonna talk foreign policy and military stuff on your blog about Mattis, or what?”
Alright, alright, already! Here’s a post about that. And here’s a story about Mattis.
Frankly, I don’t have a strong opinion on this nomination, but here are some thoughts:
- With a complete ignoramus as commander in chief, it’s more important than ever that there be competent Cabinet members, who can keep the ship of state on some kind of rational course, at least when the White House leaves them alone to do so. This is particularly true on the national security team. And Trump’s decision to make Gen. Michael “Lock Her Up!” Flynn his national security adviser already has us in the hole on that score.
- Mattis would seem to fit that bill. He’s a guy whose resume demonstrates that he would fully understand the missions of the Defense Department and act accordingly.
- Then there’s the problem that Congress would have to grant an exemption that it has not granted until it did so for George C. Marshall. The law they’d have to waive arises from concerns about maintaining civilian control of the military. As y’all know, I’m not one of these post-Vietnam liberals who hyperventilate at the sight of a military uniform, fearing a real-life “Seven Days in May.” The Constitution sets the president as commander in chief, and that would seem sufficient. Well, it would under normal circumstances. Having a SecDef who is a recent general and is able to think rings around the president on military matters and foreign affairs could be a cause of concern on the fussy point of civilian control — but I personally would sleep better if I knew Mattis was calling the shots rather than the president-elect.
- Mattis is far less trusting of Iran than President Obama. I think that is probably a healthy thing, but as Bryan would say, and this post is after all for Bryan, your mileage may vary.
- I think it’s a very good thing that he has differed in the past from Trump on the idea of our allies getting a “free ride” on the back of U.S. power. He argued with a similar comment from President Obama once.
- My guys John McCain and Lindsey Graham are on board, which makes me like him better. Graham finds him “an outstanding choice,” and McCain says “He is without a doubt of one of finest military officers of his generation and an extraordinary leader who inspires a rare and special admiration of his troops.”