Several of you sent us links to articles about the Obama Administration ingraciously dismissing Marine Corps General James Mattis, most of the links went back to Thomas Ricks’ article in Foreign Policy magazine. If it was anyone else, I’d probably believe the story, but it’s not, it’s Ricks, the same guy who wants to bring back the draft and brags about the firefights that he’s “covered” (not witnessed, covered). I get the sense that Ricks is also wrong on this story, regardless of how much I want it to be true;
I am told that General Mattis was traveling and in a meeting when an aide passed him a note telling him that the Pentagon had announced his replacement as head of Central Command. It was news to him — he hadn’t received a phone call or a heads-up from anyone at the Pentagon or the White House.
The White House wrote back to Ricks and told him that Mattis had been in a discussion with them over who his replacement would be, I’d tend to believe that. Not because the White House is particularly honest, but rather because Mattis is known as a “mad dog” and wouldn’t hold his tongue if he thought he was being screwed.
The disagreement that was supposed to trigger Mattis’ dismissal was that he pressed the National Security Council on “what ifs” in regards to Iran. That doesn’t sound like a particularly heinous crime that would get a war-planner of Mattis’ reputation fired.
Ricks updates his article this morning;
The Mattis-Donilon disagreements weren’t just about Iran. Other issues on which Mattis was pushing the White House to think deeper and harder, I am told, were “Afghanistan, concerns about Pakistani stability, [and] response to the Arab spring.”
The mishandling of Mattis is a larger part of an attempt by Donilon to centralize foreign policy making in his office, with DOD and State as implementers. My guess is that this is doomed.
The Marines are watching this intensely, but the other services also are taking note. The careerist generals will take the lesson that go along gets along. The duty-before-career guys will either go to ground or leave. Hence this incident likely will be a factor in shaping the character of the general officer corps for several years.
Like I said, I trust Ricks as far as I could toss his ample ass. I seriously don’t see a story here, and I may wrong. But it looks to me like Ricks is just trying to justify his Pulitzer.