James N. Mattis / Flickr 170710 D SV709 186...
James N. Mattis / Flickr

The last thing most liberals ever thought they would fear was a president who kept the advice of a four-star Marine general at arm’s length. Sadly, it seems like that day is here. Defense Secretary Mattis is on the outs with Donald Trump and has been for months.

Mattis has reportedly been blindsided by many of Trump’s latest and most consequential announcements, including his decision to finally pull out the Iran nuclear deal in early May, his recent concession to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to suspend military exercises with South Korea, and his direction that the Pentagon create a new branch dedicated to building a Space Force. NBC writes:

In recent months, however, the president has cooled on Mattis, in part because he’s come to believe his defense secretary looks down on him and slow-walks his policy directives, according to current and former administration officials.

The dynamic was exacerbated with Trump’s announcement in March that he had chosen John Bolton as national security adviser, a move Mattis opposed, and Mike Pompeo’s confirmation as secretary of state soon after.

Now when Trump wants some cheerleading for his most bellicose instincts he can turn to Bolton or Pompeo, rather getting actual advice or tempering from Mattis. Trump originally liked the idea of having a guy called “Mad Dog” Mattis at his side until it turned out he was rather more cerebral and studied than his impulsive nickname suggested.

So much for the generals who might rein in Trump. John Kelly has lost basically all control over the White House while also being in full agreement with Trump’s most racist anti-immigrant policies. Trump found listening to the reasoned insights of H.R. McMaster, his now ousted national security adviser, intolerable. And Mattis, somewhat like Kelly, remains but with a highly diminished profile.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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