One thing you’ll rarely hear from our nation’s Main Stream Media is anything good about our nation or our president—but you’ll sure hear every rumor of problem or failure. Let me share some very positive things that are going on.
Last December Defense Secretary Mattis visited Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan. Said one observer, he sounded much more like the country’s chief diplomat than its top soldier.
Far from seeing all solutions from a military force perspective, he repeatedly used phrases like “rebuilding trust,” “de-escalating tensions,” “continued dialogue,” “objectives of reconciliation,” “mediating the rift,” “deepening cooperation on shared interests.” You see, like most people who have any brains and have been shot at in anger—war is not the first choice for any issue.
In Egypt, his first stop, he was well received. Since Egypt has a military dictatorship, they are most comfortable when our military takes the lead in managing its relations.
By the way, thanks to the stalling tactics of the Democrats in the US Senate, 45 countries do not have US ambassadors appointed yet, including Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Mattis’ experience in Afghanistan and Iraq and leading US Central Command have earned him numerous deep relationships with leaders in that region. Because of those ties, the man charged with conducting war is seen in here as the center of peace.
Mattis says these relationships are the only things that work, especially in this part of the world. He prefers face-to-face, one-on-one meetings. And, he’s not one for large ceremonies, photo ops with the troops or joint press conferences. After the formal meetings, he likes to pull key players off to the side one at a time, then “roll up his sleeves and get down to specifics.
Even his discussions with Pakistan, which Mattis has criticized harshly in the past and whose relationship with the US has been alternately good and bad, were more about diplomacy than defense, shared values and wounds than past differences. Mattis called on Pakistan to play a leading role in bringing the Taliban to the table in Afghanistan, so that a peace there came be hammered out politically, rather than militarily.
President Trump dropped his US Embassy moving to Jerusalem bombshell during Mattis’ trip, and that agitated the very leaders Mattis was meeting with and turned his trip into something of a reassurance tour. The same day Mattis met with the Jordanian leader, King Abdullah, Abdullah began consultations to convene an emergency meeting of the Arab League in response to concerns about unrest throughout the region.
But Jordanians and Egyptians trust Mattis implicitly, despite the distracting storylines in DC. One of the advisers traveling with Mattis said the anti-Muslim tweets didn’t even come up in talks with leaders in Egypt and Jordan. It seems that most politicians are savvy enough to know that Trump is playing to his base In America with such comments, and they have no real bearing on relations with them.
Mattis seems to be one of the only people in the administration who can disagree with the boss and get away with it. He has disagreed with Trump over the vital role NATO still plays (and won) and on the necessity of not pulling troops out of Afghanistan (and won.)
Diplomat didn’t seem to be among the traits one might expect to find in someone nicknamed Mad Dog. And he’s a lover of kick-their-ass slogans such as “be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet,” and “War makes good men better and bad men worse.”
His tour was all about quiet engagement rather than big policy announcements or rah-rah visits with the troops, like these tours have been with past secretaries. Off the plane, the press was mostly sidelined, secondary to the secretary’s central mission of private talks with leaders, a focus that caused not a small amount of grumbling.
Only eight of the 18 seats in the press cabin were filled on the Mideast trip, and he’s taken to including press from beyond the beltway, such as the Christian Broadcasting Network and Breitbart. Representatives of NBC, AP, Bloomberg and Reuters. CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post were conspicuously absent from the trip. But he talks to reporters, informally and articulately, on the plane more than other Defense secretaries.
What does our warrior in chief see as our biggest threat right now? Not ISIS or Russia or even Iran. He’s most worried about the divisiveness he sees back in the homeland. I totally agree with that—the hatred permeating our nation is basically actions of name-calling, mostly the absence of any valid facts. This is destroying our nation; I hope our Defense Secretary can help heal this strife.