I made a passing reference to this in the last post, but I’m going to elevate the profile, because since then I’ve actually had the chance to read what the Warrior Monk, James Mattis, had to say today when he broke his long silence about the Trump administration in which he once served.
I urge you to read this piece in The Atlantic, which I think originally broke the story.
And now I’m going to give you the whole statement. Because not a word of what he said should be left out:
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.
Amen to all of that. Thank you, general.
Those of y’all who know me know that I have tons of respect for Jim Mattis. I knew who he was long before he was SECDEF, and my respect for him is in the context of following his career for years, listening to him speak, and reading what he has written.
I can’t say that about the President.
I didn’t think in my lifetime we’d have the President and a former military figures (at the highest level) arguing over whether American soldiers should carry out operations against Americans, but here we are.
I thought Mattis’ statement was right on, and I’m glad he wrote it.
I’m so glad he wrote it and am so glad General John Kelly just agreed (in an interview conducted by Anthony Scaramucci!) with General Mattis.
Chicago Police Beauty Squad:
‘Must be tall, the nearer six feet the better.
Ought to have a mustache, but no whiskers.
Should not weigh more than 220 nor less than 145.
Must brush clothing carefully before coming on duty. (Officers may leave busy crossings at intervals to clean up in near by alleys.)’
Some of those guys don’t have mustaches!
Which is shocking if that comes from the time it appears to come from (within a decade one way or the other from 1900).
Something that jumped out at me awhile back when working on my family tree: I suddenly realized that ALL of my great-grandfathers — and all of my wife’s great-grandfathers that I have pictures of — had mustaches. That’s 7 out of 7 (since I don’t have a pic of one of hers).
So it must have been a rule back then…
1908-Men were nothing but sex objects…
“Good looks will be the sole qualification, the term applying also to the apparel of those men taken under advisement by the chief.”