Jim Mattis isn’t “Mad Dog” as he became popularly known in marine circles, but CHAOS: “Colonel Has An Outstanding Suggestion”.
In the marine corps, he is the ‘patron saint of chaos’ and a bona fide cult of personality. Marines love him, and he, to his credit, loves marines.
He’s also a fairly established intellectual, as many generals are. To young marines like myself, he made reading seem approachable and something I should be looking into.
But reading texts advocating American global hegemony doesn’t ensure a moral, just, or correct policy. Quite the contrary.
Mattis has always been a major fear-mongerer regarding Iran. His entire career, he’s voiced concern over their power in the region and how it threatens our allies (namely Israel) and American lives more broadly.
The conclusion for why he lost his post at CENTCOM under Obama was precisely this issue. A general told POLITCO he was so bellicose because, “he wanted to get even”.
In fairness, the marines that died at Beirut weighed heavily on him, as did the marine deaths from fighting Shia militias in Iraq. Those events colored his view of Iran throughout his career.
But Iran is never going to be a legitimate military threat in Jim’s (or my) lifetime. What’s more, it’s rhetoric like his and John Bolton’s that drive the ayatollah further from US interests, setting the stage for future conflict, their supporting of insurgencies, bolstering of perceived threats, etc.
The Iranian boogeyman has already justified further force in a bloody Iraq, a groping President Obama to tread the slope of a slippery Syria, and endless bellicosity towards the nuclear Russia on their behalf.
If the concern of Mattis is truly the preservation of life for his and future marines, the only course is nonintervention for the US. These conflicts are muddied by decades of politicking and strategic maneuvering, and all for nothing. Tensions remain high, insurgencies world wide have more support than ever before, and Islamic extremists have a convenient anti-imperial animus to share regarding US foreign policy.
Instead of remaking the world in John McCain or Hillary Clinton’s image, or making it safe for democracy, or preserving the credibility of American hegemony by dropping bombs to prove we will, let’s cease the blood sacrifices of our young men for wars none of them can even rationalize.
Let us celebrate the passing of a harbinger of chaos from the White House: a man serving as a signal that conventional foreign policy bomb throwers have a place in polite society. Resisting the urge to join the chorus of outlets mourning the loss of a “sober voice“, let us toast to an accidental foreign policy contrarian, President Donald Trump.