Wednesday, January 8, 2020

James Mattis on Biden and Obama

Now that Joe Biden is presenting himself as an experienced foreign policy hand, it is worthwhile to examine the record. The Washington Examiner received a copy of a memoir by Gen. James Mattis, formerly Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense. (via Hot Air and Maggie’s Farm)

It is useful to examine the texts now. When the book comes out Mattis will immediately be tarred as a Nazi warmonger.

Ed Morrissey offers some excerpts:

I found him [Joe Biden] an admirable and amiable man. But he was past the point where he was willing to entertain a ‘good idea.’ He didn’t want to hear more; he wanted our forces out of Iraq. Whatever path led there fastest, he favored,” Mattis writes. “He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly.”

Biden reassured Mattis that Maliki wouldn’t eject all American troops from the country.

“Maliki wants us to stick around, because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise,” Biden said. “I’ll bet you my vice presidency.”

Mattis doesn’t say whether he tried to collect on that bet. As he writes, “In October 2011, Prime Minister Maliki and President Obama agreed that all U.S. forces would leave at the end of the year.”

Mattis’ warnings proved prescient, as Maliki, free of American influence, went after Sunni politicians and districts, alienating a third of the country. “Iraq slipped back into escalating violence. It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion,” Mattis writes. A Sunni revolt and a weak Iraqi Army allowed al Qaeda-aligned terrorists to return in 2014, calling themselves the Islamic State.

So, ISIS was a product of the Obama administration policy. Consider that when you hear Democratic candidates rail against Trump policy.

As you also know Mattis was commander of CENTCOM for a time, until President Obama fired him.

Mattis summarizes his time commanding CENTCOM, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia until Obama fired him, in harsh terms: “It was to be a time when I would witness duty and deceit, courage and cowardice, and, ultimately, strategic frustration.” The general was in charge of two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, though one ended on his watch — or so the president said. …

The White House “dealt with Iraq as a ‘one-off,’ as if the pullout of our troops there would have no regional implications, reinforcing our allies’ fears that we were abandoning them. I argued strongly that any vacuum left in our wake would be filled by Sunni terrorists and Iran.”

Mattis believes he was vindicated by events. Obama declared the war over, but “Iraq slipped back into escalating violence. It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion,” Mattis says. “All of this was predicted — and preventable.”

Obama made “catastrophic decisions” in Iraq, Mattis concludes. And he did so because he ignored the advice coming from multiple military and civilian advisers, thinking he knew better than all of them.

“At the top, then as now, there was an aura of omniscience. The assessments of the intelligence community, our diplomats, and our military had been excluded from the decision-making circle,” Mattis writes.

His continuing conflict with Obama over regional strategic issues led to his abrupt dismissal the next year, Mattis writes. After noting that he was known for “blunt speaking,” Mattis implicitly accuses Obama of cowardice in the manner in which he got cashiered:

He was relieved of command without even an official phone call.

“In December 2012, I received an unauthorized phone call telling me that in an hour, the Pentagon would be announcing my relief,” he writes. “I was leaving a region aflame and in disarray. The lack of an integrated regional strategy had left us adrift, and our friends confused. We were offering no leadership or direction. I left my post deeply disturbed that we had shaken our friends’ confidence and created vacuums that our adversaries would exploit.”

Hmmm… “catastrophic decisions,” complete ineptitude, an air of omniscience… leading to the catastrophe that President Trump is trying to clean up. And people want to see a return of Obama administration policies under Joe Biden. Better yet, when it comes to foreign policy Biden seems to be the best that Democrats have to offer.


Sam L. said...

Obama thought he was smarter than anyone else, and could do no wrong. He was severely mistaken.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Joe Biden was chosen for VP because of his foreign policy experience.

Joe Biden has been wrong on every foreign policy issue in the last 40 years.

Joe Biden was the only member fo the National Security Council who opposed killing Osama bin Laden.

What mystifies me is this aura of love among journalists for Joe Biden. They all think he's swell. That's fine for your brother, uncle, grandad or guy on the block. But Joe Biden wants to be President of the United States.


Walt said...

Bob Gates had the same opinion of Biden