Making war great again

The God-Emperor Ascendant chooses Mad Dog Mattis for Defense:

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis to be secretary of defense, nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform, according to people familiar with the decision.

To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.

An announcement is likely by early next week, according to the people familiar with the decision. Mattis declined to comment. Spokespersons for Trump’s transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

Mattis, 66, retired as the chief of U.S. Central Command in spring 2013 after serving more than four decades in the Marine Corps. He is known as one of the most influential military leaders of his generation, serving as a strategic thinker while occasionally drawing rebukes for his aggressive talk. Since retiring, he has served as a consultant and as a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution, a think tank at Stanford University.

Once more, Donald Trump exceeds expectations. It will be good to see a genuine strategist who understands war and is capable of riding herd on the neocons and their insane, ignorant fantasies in a position of overseeing the military.

One hopes this will bring an end to the lunacy that has pervaded the Pentagon since 2001.

The best thing about Trump’s selections is that he clearly has a penchant for self-confident men who are not inclined to be influenced by the vagaries and narratives of the media.

To gain some insight into Mattis’s thinking, it’s worth reading A New American Grand Strategy, a piece he wrote for the Hoover Institute:

The world is awash in change. The international order, so painstakingly put together by the greatest generation coming home from mankind’s bloodiest conflict, is under increasing stress. It was created with elements we take for granted: the United Nations, NATO, the Marshall Plan, Bretton Woods and more. The constructed order reflected the wisdom of those who recognized no nation lived as an island and we needed new ways to deal with challenges that for better or worse impacted all nations. Like it or not, today we are part of this larger world and must carry out our part. We cannot wait for problems to arrive here or it will be too late; rather we must remain strongly engaged in this complex world.

The international order built on the state system is not self-sustaining. It demands tending by an America that leads wisely, standing unapologetically for the freedoms each of us in this room have enjoyed. The hearing today addresses the need for America to adapt to changing circumstances, to come out now from its reactive crouch and to take a firm strategic stance in defense of our values.

While we recognize that we owe future generations the same freedoms we enjoy, the challenge lies in how to carry out our responsibility. We have lived too long now in a strategy-free mode.

To do so America needs a refreshed national strategy.

Sure, some of the language he uses is enough to make one reflexively reach for one’s pistol and scan for neocons. But the salient point is that what the USA has been doing since the end of the Cold War IS NOT VIABLE. And the fact that we “must remain strongly engaged in this complex world” is not a prescription, it is an accurate observation.

He doesn’t say what the nature of that engagement is. And, more reassuringly, there are these comments:

  • We know that the “foreseeable future” is not foreseeable; our review must incorporate unpredictability, recognizing risk while avoiding gambling with our nation’s security.Incorporating the broadest issues in its assessments, Congress should consider what we must do if the national debt is assessed to be the biggest national security threat we face.
  • Strategy connects ends, ways and means. With less military available, we must reduce our appetite for using it. Absent growing our military, there must come a time when moral outrage, serious humanitarian plight, or lesser threats cannot be militarily addressed.  Prioritization is needed if we are to remain capable of the most critical mission for which we have a military: to fight on short notice and defend the country.

If nothing else, at least he’s asking some of the right questions.