[Marxism] Jim Mattis speaks
1999wildcat at gmail.com
Wed Aug 28 18:42:14 MDT 2019
If you look at Trump's former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as one of the
representatives of the mainstream of the capitalist class (as I do) in the
Trump administration, then his reflections are significant. Here, he has
written an article for the Wall St. Journal. The article is indirectly
critical of Trump, which is also significant, as is the fact that it's
carried in the WSJ, which is the most conservative of all the major
newspapers, and the only one that in practice supports Trump. Here are a
During the interview, Mr. Trump had asked me if I could do the job. I said
I could. I’d never aspired to be secretary of defense and took the
opportunity to suggest several other candidates I thought highly capable.
Still, having been raised by the Greatest Generation, by two parents who
had served in World War II, and subsequently shaped by more than four
decades in the Marine Corps, I considered government service to be both
honor and duty. When the president asks you to do something, you don’t play
Hamlet on the wall, wringing your hands. To quote a great American
company’s slogan, you “just do it.” So long as you are prepared, you say
When it comes to the defense of our experiment in democracy and our way of
life, ideology should have nothing to do with it. Whether asked to serve by
a Democratic or a Republican, you serve. “Politics ends at the water’s
edge”: That ethos has shaped and defined me, and I wasn’t going to betray
it, no matter how much I was enjoying my life west of the Rockies and
spending time with a family I had neglected during my 40-plus years in the
The Marines are bluntly critical of falling short, satisfied only with 100%
effort and commitment. Yet over the course of my career, every time I made
a mistake—and I made many—the Marines promoted me. They recognized that
these mistakes were part of my tuition and a necessary bridge to learning
how to do things right. Year in and year out, the Marines had trained me in
skills they knew I needed, while educating me to deal with the unexpected.
Beneath its Prussian exterior of short haircuts, crisp uniforms and
exacting standards, the Corps nurtured some of the strangest mavericks and
most original thinkers I encountered in my journey through multiple
commands and dozens of countries. The Marines’ military excellence does not
suffocate intellectual freedom or substitute regimented dogma for
imaginative solutions. They know their doctrine, often derived from lessons
learned in combat and written in blood, but refuse to let that turn into
Woe to the unimaginative one who, in after-action reviews, takes refuge in
doctrine. The critiques in the field, in the classroom or at happy hour are
blunt for good reasons. Personal sensitivities are irrelevant. No effort is
made to ease you through your midlife crisis when peers, seniors or
subordinates offer more cunning or historically proven options, even when
out of step with doctrine.
In any organization, it’s all about selecting the right team. The two
qualities I was taught to value most were initiative and aggressiveness.
Institutions get the behaviors they reward.…
I could see that the background drummed into me as a Marine would need to
be adapted to fit my role as a civilian secretary. It now became even
clearer to me why the Marines assign an expanded reading list to everyone
promoted to a new rank: That reading gives historical depth that lights the
path ahead. Books like the “Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant,”
“Sherman” by B.H. Liddell Hart and Field Marshal William Slim’s “Defeat
Into Victory” illustrated that we could always develop options no matter
how worrisome the situation. Slowly but surely, we learned there was
nothing new under the sun: Properly informed, we weren’t victims—we could
always create options….
An oft-spoken admonition in the Marines is this: When you’re going to a
gunfight, bring all your friends with guns. Having fought many times in
coalitions, I believe that we need every ally we can bring to the fight.
>From imaginative military solutions to their country’s vote in the U.N.,
the more allies the better. I have never been on a crowded battlefield, and
there is always room for those who want to be there alongside us.
A wise leader must deal with reality and state what he intends, and what
level of commitment he is willing to invest in achieving that end. He then
has to trust that his subordinates know how to carry that out. Wise
leadership requires collaboration; otherwise, it will lead to failure….
Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither. Alone, America
cannot protect our people and our economy. At this time, we can see storm
clouds gathering. A polemicist’s role is not sufficient for a leader. A
leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those
nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed. Returning to a
strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can
make common cause with, we can better deal with this imperfect world we
occupy together. Absent this, we will occupy an increasingly lonely
position, one that puts us at increasing risk in the world….
What concerns me most as a military man is not our external adversaries; it
is our internal divisiveness. We are dividing into hostile tribes cheering
against each other, fueled by emotion and a mutual disdain that jeopardizes
our future, instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding
All Americans need to recognize that our democracy is an experiment—and one
that can be reversed. We all know that we’re better than our current
politics. Tribalism must not be allowed to destroy our experiment….
how unimportant are many of the things back home that can divide us if we
On each of our coins is inscribed America’s de facto motto, “E Pluribus
Unum”—from many, one. For our experiment in democracy to survive, we must
live that motto.
*“In politics, abstract terms conceal treachery.” *from "The Black
Jacobins" by C. L. R. James
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