President Donald Trump’s first former Defense Secretary, James Mattis, prompted a swift backlash from conservatives after he penned an article that called for eliminating “America First” from the nation’s national security strategy — a direct attack on his former boss’s world view.
In a Foreign Affairs piece co-authored with Never Trumper and Atlantic contributor Kori Schake, Mattis wrote:
In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades.
Mattis also argued for a continued U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. He wrote: “It is in the United States’ interests to build the capacity of such governments to deal with the threats that concern Americans.”
“That work isn’t quick or linear, but it is an investment in both greater security and stronger relationships and preferable to the United States’ indefinitely having to take care of threats on its own,” he added.
He also called for “substantial investment to help build capable and willing allies” and “to sustain an industrial base that can provide for the defense needs of the United States and help meet those of its most essential allies.”
Trump responded in a tweet Tuesday morning: “That says it all about Mattis. Obama fired him. I should have fired him sooner. Did best work after he was gone. World’s most overrated general!”
Bryan Dean Wright, a former CIA operations officer and conservative Democrat, criticized Mattis’s piece as well:
America First does not mean America Alone. It means allies must carry their weight — no more NATO members shirking their military commitments, for example. Otherwise, we walk away. Jim Mattis knows this. He’s lying to denigrate Trump & the tough America First movement.
Actor and conservative Isaiah Washington tweeted, “Did James Mattis just indirectly declare war on the American People? Wow. I Stand With @GenFlynn #MAGA.”
“For him to say that, being a military veteran, for him to say that — that hurts, man,” said conservative radio show host and veteran Wayne Dupree on his show on Tuesday, choking up. “That’s a heart hurt type of thing.”
Scott Adams, cartoonist and author, tweeted: “Is it too late to fire him a second time?”
Edward Luttwak, a historian and scholar, said that Mattis lacked situational awareness at a strategic level.
“Ret. 4-star & SecDef Mattis is quoted by CNN etc as the ultimate strategic authority. Not quite: the 2003 drive up to Baghdad was operational-level generalship at its best, but situational awareness is the key at the strategic level & it was absent in M’s Afghanistan decisions,” he tweeted.
Author Diana West tweeted that Mattis’s loyalty is to the “globalist ‘world order,’ which is America Last.”