Thursday, June 4, 2020

James Mattis on Leadership

Now we have the James Mattis theory of leadership. If you want the president to be more presidential-- who among us does not?-- you trash him in public, you denounce him as a Nazi and you declare that he is incapable of providing leadership. That is, you ensure that whatever leadership he does or does not provide, people will not follow his lead. What good is a leader whose armies refuse to follow him? At the least, it’s an army in mutiny, and we know that this is not a good thing. Don't we?

To be more obvious than need be, Mattis was undermining the president and making it more difficult to lead.

Consider his ill-tempered remarks:

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that 'The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was 'Divide and Conquer...Our American answer is 'In Union there is Strength.' We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis - confident that we are better than our politics.' 

Does anyone think that his statement pointed toward unity. It was purely divisive.

We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society….

This feels more like a call to overthrow the leader than a step toward national reconciliation.

Of course, this is not the first time that the Obamafied brass and senior American leadership tried to mount a coup against President Trump. Of course, no one calls what happened in the bowels of the Pentagon on July 20, 2017 a coup, but clearly it was an attempt, by senior administration officials to take over for President Trump. The assembled officials thought that they were staging an intervention. They believed that Trump was too ignorant to conduct foreign policy. After all, he was siding with Israel against Iran and the Iran nuclear deal. And he was disparaging our alliances with the weak sisters of Western Europe.

In short, Mattis, Gary Cohn and Rex Tillerson were standing up for international institutions and the old world order. They were striking a blow against Trump’s nationalist policies, policies that had brought him to the White House.

Of course, by doing it in front of other people, they were showing that they should be in charge. They were saying that they could not accept the leadership of President Trump. If so, they ought to have resigned before mounting a coup. As it happened, all three of the plotters were soon relieved of their duties.

Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker described the scene, in portentous tones:

One hundred fifty-​­two years after Lincoln hatched plans to preserve the Union, President Trump’s advisers staged an intervention inside the Tank to try to preserve the world order.

Note this: they were not trying to save the union but to preserve their belief in a world order and international institutions. They staged this intervention because they felt that Trump was too ignorant to govern. How about that for a show of confidence in leadership?

By that point, six months into his administration, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump’s knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.

You can call it an intervention, as though Trump needed therapy, or you can call it a tailored tutorial, but it happened in front of other people and it was intended to put Trump in his place and to undermine his leadership:

So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day crystallized the commander in chief’s berating, derisive and dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. 

Trump’s response is telling, but not as the authors imagine. Clearly, he understood that he was under attack and being threatened by insubordinate subordinates:

You’re all losers,” Trump said. “You don’t know how to win anymore.”

I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.

Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

So, an oil company executive, an investment banker and a general were standing up for the international order, and, incidentally for the Obama legacy. They were representing those who were leading the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, war efforts that had not been notably successful. When you have not been winning wars you have little standing to take over American foreign policy. They did not understand that the weak sisters of Western Europe were leeching off of American military power.

What happens when soldiers do not win wars?

They pretend to be philosophers.

Worse yet, they were flagrantly disrespecting the president and the presidency. They were doing their best to undermine his ability to lead. In that they have not been alone. Not an hour passes when someone somewhere, someone in government or someone in the media declares that Trump must be removed from any position of leadership.

Does that make it easier or harder for a president to lead?


Fredrick said...

Jim Mattis is only a retired officer, he did not resign his commission nor have a resignation of it accepted. He is still subject to the UCMJ and his public comments are certainly conduct unbecoming an officer and disrespect to a superior. That's a minimum of two UCMJ violations. President Trump should have the Esper remind the retired general of that.

UbuMaccabee said...

Lincoln dealt with all of this. Virtually all of his cabinet and the political establishment and the military know-it-alls regarded his as a rube and a dummy. He was not fit for office or leadership. They thought they were in charge. And when they found out they were not, they went running to the press to smear him. Trump has dealt with much, much greater treachery. He has so many plots against him from so many angles it's beyond comprehension how he remains calm.

Mattis is George McClellan. Except McClellan did have a victory at Antietam. Iraq is a fail and so is Afghanistan. Multi-billion dollar epic fail.

Mattis also supported the Iran deal and idiotic wasteful spending like the new climate change military. He's deep state up to his eyeballs. He's the new Wesley Clarke.

He says he likes to brawl, well so does Donald. Let's see how thin-skinned Mattis really is when someone openly mocks him in public. Bet he hasn't had that happen in a long time.

Trump's tweet reply to Mattis was delightful.

Anonymous said...

Reminds one of Lincoln's do nothing Generals. All confined to the in club
West Point way of doing things and getting nothing accomplished. Only by finally
going with an Outsider - Grant - who hated his time at West Point, did Lincoln
and the Union move forward to final success. Mattis and the bunch of them
are like McClellan- always just about to do something but actually just fortifying the status quo. These guys are/were the architects of the endless wars in
Afghanistan & Iraq. We're always just a month or a year away from the final
attainment of Nation building democracy. Maybe Mattis will run for President like
McClellan. While Trump is no Lincoln, far from it, He's right about one thing- these
guys are losers. Actions are greater than words. Mattis and his crowd harp about unity
while practicing relentless division themselves.

UbuMaccabee said...

Fred, no, Trump should charge him. They only understand force. Ring him up, charge him, humiliate him. Never remind, act or do not act. If you act, ruin him--and make sure Mattis looks like the villain. Smear him if need be. Link him to Theranos.

I don't think Trump can. The only thing standing between Trump and the violent revolution is the loyalty of the US military to the President. He has to be careful here or he could have an officer revolt (which I am 100% positive the Left is trying to foment).

I wonder if the DNC is looking to Mattis as their candidate when they declare Joe non compos mentis. The man to bring "peace" to America.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Mattis, Tillerson and Cohn are bit players in all this in the larger sense. This is all driven by a macro-narrative, written by globalist elites who are the real power brokers. They are the true divide-and-conquer warlords who crush and shame dissenters. Trump was the last gasp of a traditional American mindset, focused on We the People. Our "leaders" have more in common with exotic globalist "thought leaders" in Davos than they do with most American citizens.

As the last 11 weeks have shown, our country's "leaders" and "smart people" and "authorities" are making our daily life into a horror show. They are also insulated from the consequences of this circus. The combination of (1) the rise of social media and (2) big media consolidation have been a disaster for our national discourse. We now have a phony conventional wisdom that demands absolute ideological conformity. No thinking required -- nor allowed. Those who dissent are marginalized, called "deplorables" and "racists." We have this emerging utopian American culture that no one belongs to. We have less and less in common.

The United States has become a brutal globo-corporatist economic con game benefitting the elites, with politically correct virtue-signaling to make them feel better. Our new economic game is driven by border-agnostic financiers and megalomaniacal tech wizards. Our new social system is designed by Left-wing educators and activists. Our cultural institutions are intoxicated with ideological nonsense that creates momentary emotional comfort, but leaves the soul vacant. No one is thinking. Our corrupt institutions advocate an oligarchic technology economy, which is taking the lead to establish a totalitarian social system.

I am beyond disgusted.

UbuMaccabee said...

I just had a realization. Mattis is the visible tip of the iceberg to take the military away from the POTUS. Esper is another sign. The swamp military is on the rise and they have been organized to remove Trump. Trump has deep support among the enlisted and productive officers, but the upper ranks are swamp. The Left knows the military is a big obstacle for them; they have everything else. The Communists in Spain knew this very well. They were very angry with the socialists for acting too early until the communists had more time to remove their enemies internally.

BTW, my Spanish Civil War premise was, in hindsight, prescient. It's the best analogy I know for what we face. Stanley Payne. Must read.

Fredrick said...

@ ubumacabee,

Naw, Mattis had a nice office with a flag that had four stars on it. Trump has an office with no corners to cut and that flag in it has fifty stars, not four. He has plenty of subordinates that can deliver a message, through a couple levels of the chain of command, until a LTC shows up on his front porch and politely hands him a note that in the best tradtions of the service tells him to knock it off.

whitney said...

James Mattis fell for the fake blood test girl Hook Line & Sinker. His judgment is not to be trusted

Anonymous said...

I like Trump's style. The guy has leadership skills which wimpy Bush and Obama didn't. Obama even announced that he wanted to lead from behind! That is far more frightening and offensive than Trump's tweets.