James Mattis’ 33-Year Grudge Against Iran


Many in the Pentagon worry that Trump’s pick for defense secretary is looking for a fight in the Middle East.

For many, and even for self-proclaimed progressives, Donald Trump’s pick to be secretary of defense, Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, is a light in the darkness—a kind of oasis in the midst of a vast reactionary desert. And so it seems, all of us can now breathe a sigh of relief: After all these weeks, there’s finally an adult in the room.

What’s not to like? Mattis, as has been reported, is not just a warrior, he’s an intellectual. Entire websites are dedicated to his pithy bon mots (“be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet”), which, along with his skillful handling of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq gave him the sobriquet “Mad Dog.” His gruff and outspoken attitude has Pattonesque appeal. But he’s also accumulated a library of thousands. And as we’re gushingly reminded, he carries a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations wherever he goes, a sure sign that he’s a smart guy.

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