Friday, December 2, 2016

Stop. Trying. To. Make. Me. Like. Him! Part 21...

Stop. Trying. To. Make. Me. Like. Him!  Part 21...  Yesterday came the (much anticipated) official news that Trump is going to nominate General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as his Secretary of Defense.  I first became aware of Mattis in 2003, during the first Iraq War, when he commanded the Marines invading Kuwait to throw Saddam Hussein's army out.  He was one of the figures whose leadership I most admired.  One thing I learned about him that I really liked: he's an avid student of history, widely and deeply reading both political and military history.  He's famous for being deeply knowledgeable about the history of the Middle East.  His clear-eyed (and long held) view of the dangers posed by Iran as a state actor are extremely refreshing when compared to the spineless posturing of the Obama administration.  Intermittently since 2003 he's been in the news, always taking a position that I already supported, or came to support in part after reading what he had to say.  He's also been a prominent character in all the histories and reporting on Middle East conflicts since 2003.

It never occurred to me that Trump might nominate such a solid, well-qualified candidate – either for Secretary of Defense or any other post.  His doing so nurtures the tiniest little flame of hope in me.  If there was anybody who might successfully guide the Department of Defense through the mess that is the Middle East, this would be the guy.  I'm stunned that Trump made such a great choice.  Stunned in a good way, too...

I'm not alone in this assessment.  One of the commentators I respect, on military affairs in general and the Middle East in particular, is Ralph Peters.  Here's his fawning approval of the Mattis appointment.  If you're not familiar with Peters, let me assure you that this article's style is not his normal style: he's more of the bite-your-head-off critic in most cases, of the kind with lots of those pesky facts at his disposal.  Peters was a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign.  It's notable that his approval of Mattis is, so far as I can discern, completely unqualified.  He must be sharing some of my feelings right about now. :)

If you aren't familiar with Mattis, it's worth your time to get to know him a bit.  He's famous for his pithy quotes, which are easy to find all over the web.  Wikipedia has a decent short-form biography.  If you search his name on Google, you'll find hundreds of articles that mention him.  For a more in-depth treatment, read any of the dozens of histories of conflict in the Middle East since 2000 – he'll be a prominent character in any of them.

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