The Corner

America’s Misnamed Mad Dog

The defense secretary, Jim Mattis, flew to Iraq. And he talked with reporters about the idea of seizing Iraq’s oil.

President Trump, the day after he was sworn in, said this at the CIA: “We don’t win anymore. The old expression ‘To the victor belong the spoils’ — you remember. I always used to say, ‘Keep the oil.’” The president then told the assemblage, “Maybe you’ll have another chance. But the fact is — should have kept the oil.”

In Iraq today, Mattis said, “I think all of us here in this room, all of us in America, have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I’m sure that we will continue to do that in the future.”

That is such a simple statement. Hardly worthy of making the news. Hardly worthy of repeating in a blogpost like this one. A humdrum statement. But those simple words — we “have generally paid for our gas and oil” — stood out to me. They are sort of stirring. Which is strange.

In this first month of the new presidency, Mattis has stood out as a beacon of reason, composure, and normalcy. (A word from Harding, in the ’20 campaign!) When I was a kid, I sometimes heard that military guys shouldn’t be let near civilian control. But Mattis, along with the DHS secretary, John Kelly, helps put the lie to that.

Ike did all right too, in the White House.

Good for Donald Trump for appointing Mattis and Kelly, along with (Thank Heaven For) Betsy and others. And may we Americans continue to pay for our gas and oil — at low prices. And produce the bejesus out of them.

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