Despite his nickname, Secretary Of Defense General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is said to be one of Donald Trump’s most level-headed cabinet members — which is why it isn’t surprising that there are now reports that Trump’s slowly freezing him out of many major national security policy decisions.
An NBC report claims that so far Trump has excluded Mattis from decisions such as the creation of his fabled “Space Force” and the agreement with North Korea for the U.S. to halt military exercises with South Korea. The report, citing “current and former administration officials,” highlights a protracted cooling between the Secretary and the President, “in part because he’s come to believe his defense secretary looks down on him and slow-walks his policy directives.”
“We’ve seen this coming, and it has something to do with the reconfiguration of the national security cabinet,” said MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in her report on the story on Monday. “But it really is telling given South Korea, the joint exercises — this was a concession to Kim Jong-un at the table in Singapore, without really consulting the Secretary of Defense.”
Carol Lee, one of the journalists who broke the story, replied to Mitchell stating that Mattis was left out of the final decision, although he was aware that the provision was a part of the U.S. proposals.
“[E]ven when we spoke to people inside the White House and they were addressing each of the points in the story, a White House official said, ‘well, you know, Mattis knew that it was possible that Trump may do something like this’ but the President was in the meeting with the leader of North Korea and just made the decision,” she said. She added that Mattis found out from another official and then had to adjust accordingly.
“Another administration official then told the Defense Secretary that this had happened, and he then had to find a way to prepare for that,” she said.
However, an NBC article adds that there’s no indication of outward bad blood between the two men.
“One defense official said there is no indication Trump is unhappy with Mattis, just that he is not in the inner decision-making circle anymore. The official said Mattis does not contradict the president publicly or in the media and does not draw the president’s ire.”
Meanwhile, the administration refuted the article. Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White labeled the report “pure silliness.” Speaking on behalf of the White House, National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis told NBC that “for an unnamed expert to claim a department is not in the loop is ludicrous.”
We’ll have to see how this plays out in upcoming months. However, it’s entirely plausible that Trump’s extremely disappointed that “Mad Dog” Mattis wasn’t the same cartoonish figure he envisioned in his head. This disillusionment seems to be a common trend with many of Trump’s appointees.
Featured image via YouTube