Defense Secretary Mattis Resigns After Trump Pulls Troops From Syria
Secretary of Defense James Mattis gave President Donald Trump his resignation on Thursday, Dec. 20, shortly after the President announced a full withdrawal of troops from Syria.
“Because you have the right to have 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 wrote in his resignation letter to Trump.
The four-star general, who has spent 68 years in politics, was chosen as Trump’s Secretary of Defense after the 2016 presidential election, though the position is usually held for civilians. Mattis is yet held in high esteem by his colleagues in the military. He’s often referred to as a “warrior monk,” who eats, breathes, lives, and dies by his Marine Corps training, CNN reports.
Though Mattis did not make his disagreement with the decision to remove troops from Syria public, a senior administration official told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Mattis was “vehemently opposed” to the measure. Mattis’ resignation letter did not praise the president, nor thank him for the cabinet position.
Mattis indicated in his letter that the U.S. was at risk of weakening through policies of divisiveness and exclusion, those which have become characteristic of the administration he served for the last few years.
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“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships,” Mattis wrote. “While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when he heard of Mattis’ departure, echoed the same wishes for the future of the country.
Feelings of anxiety over Mattis departure were shared across the aisle, as tenured democrats also voiced.
“We shared the view — long-held by Democrats and Republicans in this nation — that respect for our allies and a commitment to the most important and effective alliances in history made America safer,” former Vice President Joe Biden posted to Twitter.
“It is clear this administration has abandoned those core American beliefs,” Biden added. “Secretary Mattis’ presence and his voice of reason and experience will be missed in the Pentagon and the Situation Room.”
Trump announced Mattis’ resignation on Twitter.
“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” he wrote.