The Corner

General Mattis Is an Outstanding Choice for Secretary of Defense

Donald Trump has picked an honorable, thoughtful, and courageous warrior to lead the Pentagon. He knows how to lead men in battle. He’s an outstanding strategic thinker, and he’s unencumbered by politically correct nonsense. Trump’s cabinet is shaping up very well indeed, but this choice is his best and most crucial personnel decision yet.

No one can doubt General Mattis’s credentials. The Washington Post has a nice summary:

Mattis, whose nicknames include “Mad Dog” and the “Warrior Monk,” has had a leading hand in some of the U.S. military’s most significant operations in the last 20 years. As a one-star general, he led an amphibious task force of Marines that carried out a November 2001 raid in helicopters on Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, giving the Pentagon a new foothold against the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Using the call sign “Chaos,” he commanded a division of Marines during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and returned there the following year to lead Marines in bloody street fighting in the city of Fallujah.

Mattis continued to rise through the ranks and establish his credentials as a military thinker, co-authoring the U.S. military’s new counterinsurgency manual with then-Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus while Mattis was a three-star general at Quantico, Va.

He is clear about the Iranian threat, has worked closely with Israel, and has served as the supreme allied commander of transformation for NATO and the chief of Central Command. In other words, few men have been as closely involved in American military planning and war fighting as Mattis.

His speeches and statements are legendary. He fights hard, and he fights honorably. I can get behind a man who says this:

Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.

Or this:

The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some *******s in the world that just need to be shot. There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.

And this statement is for all American warriors, not just Marines:

For the mission’s sake, for our country’s sake, and the sake of the men who carried the Division’s colors in past battles — “who fought for life and never lost their nerve” — carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the world there is “No Better Friend — No Worse Enemy” than a US Marine.

There are good reasons why the Military Times called Mattis the “most revered Marine general in at least a generation.” Trump has made an excellent choice.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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