Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned Thursday after clashing with President Donald Trump over the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, saying in a parting letter that the president deserves someone atop the Pentagon “better aligned” with his views.
The retired Marine general’s surprise resignation came a day after Trump shocked American allies and overruled his advisers, including Mattis, upon announcing a withdrawal from Syria. In the process, Trump declared victory over the Islamic State, even though the Pentagon and State Department for months have been saying the fight against the group in Syria isn’t over.
Trump also ordered the Pentagon, against Mattis’ recommendation, to come up with a plan to withdraw approximately half of the American troops deployed to Afghanistan, a move that military officials have warned could plunge the nation into chaos.
The discord, coupled with an array of other disagreements, caused Trump to lose a respected Cabinet official who won widespread praise at home and abroad but who experienced increasing differences with a commander in chief known for his skepticism of American allies and military operations overseas.
Long seen as a bulwark against Trump’s isolationist impulses and more extreme proposals, Mattis served as a calm “reassurer in-chief” as the president sent out startling and provocative tweets.
His departure prompted a chorus of concern about the president’s temperament and decision-making processes and injected new uncertainty into the administration’s approach to global threats.
BY Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey, Missy Ryan(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Dec 21, 2018