clear
Saturday October 21st, 2017 10:14AM

Mattis, Trump's choice to lead Pentagon, is wary of Iran

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — In November 2012, shortly before the White House ended his tenure commanding U.S. forces in the Middle East, Marine Gen. James Mattis delivered an urgent message to his boss: An Iranian fighter jet had fired errantly on a U.S. drone flying over the Persian Gulf.

In considering how the U.S. should respond, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took into account a central feature of Mattis' reputation — his nerve.

"I could sense that Mattis did not want to back down," Panetta recounted in his memoir, "Worthy Fights." ''And that the White House was wary of his resolve. As I already knew, the White House didn't fully trust Mattis, regarding him as too eager for a military confrontation with Iran."

That crisis faded. But Mattis now stands on the brink of becoming Pentagon chief for a president-elect, Donald Trump, who has pledged to toughen U.S. policy toward Iran. That could have broad implications as the incoming Trump administration weighs trying to modify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reconfigure the American posture in the Middle East after complaints from U.S. allies that President Barack Obama yielded too much ground to Tehran.

Mattis, who retired in 2013, is in line to be the first career military officer to serve as defense secretary in more than a half-century. He was to testify Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was expected to broadly approve his nomination.

In prepared remarks for the hearing, Mattis expressed unqualified support for traditional U.S. international alliances. In contrast, during the White House campaign, Trump insisted that U.S. treaty allies and security partners pay more for their own defense and for hosting American forces on their soil.

"History is clear: Nations with strong allies thrive and those without them wither," Mattis said in written remarks provided by Trump aides in advance of the Senate hearing.

Mattis is a former leader of NATO's transformation command, in charge of efforts to adapt the alliance's structure and capabilities to 21st century threats.

Mattis also said he understands that his role as the Defense Department's civilian leader would be different "in essence and in substance" from his role while in uniform.

"The esprit-de-corps of our military, its can-do spirit, and its obedience to civilian leadership reduces the inclination and power of the military to criticize or oppose the policy it is ultimately ordered to implement," he said.

Before Mattis can join the Cabinet, Congress must approve a one-time exception to a law requiring a military officer to be out of uniform for at least seven years before leading the Pentagon. Even some of Trump's strongest critics say Mattis merits the exception.

Eliot A. Cohen, a senior State Department counselor in President George W. Bush's administration who has publicly criticized the incoming Trump team, said at a Senate hearing Tuesday that he feels a "sense of alarm" about the judgment of the incoming administration. But, he said, Mattis "would be a stabilizing and moderating force, preventing wildly stupid, dangerous or illegal things from happening."

Mattis, 66, is one of three recently retired senior generals selected by Trump for top jobs in his administration.

Michael Flynn, who left the Army as a lieutenant general in 2014 after a tumultuous tenure as the Defense Intelligence Agency's director, is Trump's national security adviser. Marine Gen. John Kelly, who retired in 2016, was chosen to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Mattis could attract top-notch talent to the Pentagon, said Richard Fontaine, the Center for a New American Security's president.

"He has a reputation as a leader of exceptional integrity who inspires his subordinates and speaks truth to power," Fontaine said in an email.

After retiring, Mattis joined the Hoover Institution, a conservative-leaning think tank. He also is a member of the board of directors of General Dynamics, the big defense contractor.

He has remained outspoken in his concerns about Iran. In remarks last April at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mattis called Iran "the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East."

Mattis is best known as a battle-hardened combat officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he also has worked behind the scenes with senior civilian officials at the Pentagon. As a colonel in the mid-1990s he was the executive secretary in the office of two defense secretaries, William Perry and William Cohen. Later, Mattis was senior military assistant to Rudy DeLeon while he was deputy secretary of defense.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News, AP World News - International incidents
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Legendary comedian Jerry Lewis knew how to laugh and cry
If jokes are the children of pain, then Jerry Lewis was a natural father
12:05AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Jerry Lewis, Hollywood survivor, showman, dies at 91
Jerry Lewis epitomized what it meant to be a survivor in Hollywood
12:05AM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Singapore helicopter evacuates 4 injured US crew
The U.S. Navy says four sailors injured in a ship collision were evacuated to a hospital
11:53PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Trump to address nation Monday on Afghanistan
Trump to reveal plan for war in Afghanistan in national address Monday night
7:53PM ( 4 hours ago )
Senator who hoped for Trump assassination in post apologizes
Missouri lawmaker who temporarily posted Facebook comment expressing hope that President Donald Trump would be assassinated apologizes to Trump and his family, but says she has no plans to resign
6:19PM ( 6 hours ago )
Trump will address path forward on Afghanistan
White House announces that President Donald Trump would address the nation's troops and the American people Monday night to update the path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia
4:35PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Iran approves nearly all of Rouhani's Cabinet picks
Iranian lawmakers have approved 16 Cabinet members nominated by recently re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, including the first defense minister unaffiliated with the elite, hard-line Revolutionary Guard in 25 years
10:23AM ( 14 hours ago )
McCaskill reaching out to rural Missouri ahead of election
Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is holding another round of town halls in rural, Republican strongholds as she gears up for a competitive re-election campaign
10:12AM ( 14 hours ago )
Venezuela congress defies push to take over its powers
Venezuela's congress is meeting in defiance of what opposition leaders consider an autocratic push by allies of President Nicolas Maduro to usurp the legislature's powers
2:06PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Trump dumps Bannon, who returns to conservative website
Trump pushes out strategist Steve Bannon, who returns to Breitbart News with goal of 'going to war' with Trump opponents
4:03PM ( 1 day ago )
Trump ousts Bannon, his influential, divisive strategist
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon pushed out of his White House post, returns to Breitbart News
9:12PM ( 2 days ago )
Kenya opposition files challenge against presidential vote
Lawyers representing the Kenyan opposition coalition National Super Alliance have filed a petition with the Supreme Court challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election, beating a midnight deadline
6:24PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn't happen this week
12:35PM ( 2 days ago )
Republican leaders dance around Trump remarks
Republican leaders tiptoe around President Donald Trump's extraordinary remarks on white supremacists as the GOP grapples with an escalating political crisis
3:37AM ( 3 days ago )
Ousted chief justice makes runoff in Alabama Senate race
Ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is trying to play usurper to deep-pocketed Republican forces after making a runoff with incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in the state's Senate primary
8:36PM ( 4 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Trump expresses concern for warship crew
President Donald Trump is expressing concern for the crew of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy warship that collided with a tanker near Singapore
11:42PM ( 58 minutes ago )
The Latest: Senator tweets prayers for USS John S. McCain
U.S. Sen. John McCain says he is praying for the sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain after the warship collided with a tanker in Southeast Asian waters
11:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Malaysia sends ships to help after sea collision
Malaysia has sent two naval ships to join the search and rescue efforts after a U.S. Navy ship collided with a tanker in Southeast Asian waters
10:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
South Africa mulls fate of Mugabe's wife after assault claim
South Africa mulls fate of Mugabe's wife after assault claim; Zimbabwe blocks SAA flights
10:10AM ( 1 day ago )
China, India soldiers hurl stones at each other in Kashmir
Indian and Chinese soldiers yelled and hurled stones at one another high in the Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir
9:07PM ( 4 days ago )
China, India soldiers hurl stones at 1 another in Kashmir
Indian and Chinese soldiers hurled stones at one another during an altercation in the high Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir
5:43AM ( 4 days ago )
AP World News - International incidents
Legendary comedian Jerry Lewis knew how to laugh and cry
If jokes are the children of pain, then Jerry Lewis was a natural father
12:05AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Jerry Lewis, Hollywood survivor, showman, dies at 91
Jerry Lewis epitomized what it meant to be a survivor in Hollywood
12:05AM ( 34 minutes ago )
The Latest: Singapore helicopter evacuates 4 injured US crew
The U.S. Navy says four sailors injured in a ship collision were evacuated to a hospital
11:53PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Boldin abruptly retires 2 weeks after signing with Bills
Receiver Anquan Boldin abruptly announces his retirement to focus on his humanitarian work just under two weeks after signing with the Buffalo Bills
11:44PM ( 56 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump expresses concern for warship crew
President Donald Trump is expressing concern for the crew of the USS John S. McCain, a Navy warship that collided with a tanker near Singapore
11:42PM ( 58 minutes ago )