Defense Secretary James Mattis submitted a scathing resignation after he failed to dissuade President Donald Trump from ordering a withdrawal of troops from Syria, The New York Times reported.
According to the report, the retired 4-star Marine general made one last attempt to convince Trump to stay in Syria. When that failed, he had his aides hand out 50 copies of his resignation letter at the Pentagon.
Trump tweeted that Mattis would be “retiring” but Mattis’ resignation letter revealed that the outgoing Defense Secretary was quitting over irreconcilable differences with the president.
Mattis wrote that, “one core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.”
He wrote that the US should resist China and Russia’s attempts to “shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model,” and that the US should protect the “international order.”
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects,” Mattis wrote, “I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019.”
As Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway pointed out, Mattis had not one positive thing to say about the president.
Possible Mattis replacement opposes Syria withdrawal too:
One name that has repeatedly been floated as a possible replacement is retired Gen. Jack Keane, who was considered for the job previously but turned it down because of the recent passing of his late wife.
Keane, however, made it clear that he vehemently opposes pulling troops out of Syria in an appearance on Fox Business Network earlier this week.
“This I believe is a serious strategic mistake, it’s going to have dire consequences. I think it’s a decision the President will come to regret, to be frank about it,” he said.
Putin welcomes troop pullout:
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked by a reporter Friday, “what message does it send the Putin cheers the president and his own defense secretary [James Mattis] is upset about it?”
“The idea that Putin is happy about this is ridiculous,” Sanders responded. “He’s not. This puts a greater emphasis and makes them have to actually step up and do something, and do more in the region. It puts them at a greater risk. So I think that’s just silly.”
Except, Putin explicitly said he supports the move.
Putin told journalists in Moscow that the US “would be right” to withdraw.
“On this, Donald is right. I agree with him,” Putin said.