Former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has finally commented on President Trump’s leadership as he slammed the U.S. leader, on Wednesday, accusing him of trying to “divide” America and failing to provide “mature leadership” as the country staggers from days of protests over George Floyd’s murder.
Former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis resigned in December 2018 over Trump’s decision to order a full troop withdrawal from Syria. Mattis has voiced his support for the demonstrators whose anti-racism rallies have shaken the country.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try,” Mattis wrote in a blistering statement posted online by The Atlantic.
“Instead, he tries to divide us,” added the retired Marine general, who had previously argued it would be inappropriate for him to criticize a sitting president when he left office and was asked to make a comment.
“We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership,” he stated.
Mattis described himself as “angry and appalled” after witnessing events of the last week, which saw Trump threaten a military crackdown on American citizens as nationwide protests turned violent in some cities.
The protest and agitation were sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a black man who suffocated beneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer, and whose agonizing death was filmed by passersby.
Addressing the protester’s demand, Jim Mattis wrote, “the protester’s call for equal justice was a wholesome and unifying demand.”
Mattis completely condemned Trump’s decision to use the force to clear peaceful protesters from near the White House on Monday to allow ‘him’ to pose for photographs at a nearby damaged church, calling it an “abuse of executive authority.”
The photo op has become a lightning rod for criticism of Trump’s handling of the crisis, with religious leaders, politicians, and onlookers around the country expressing outrage.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” Mattis stated.
“Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”
The U.S. President Trump has dismissed Mattis with a tweet, rehashing his claim that he “essentially” fired his Pentagon chief.
“Probably the only thing Barack Obama and I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General,” the president wrote.
Mattis was head of US Central Command when Obama fired him in 2013 over his hawkish views on Iran. It’s also worthy of note that Mattis refused to criticize Trump publicly after he resigned, insisting the military must remain apolitical.
Mattis Wednesday’s statement is a signal that he no longer felt bound by his belief and respect for the president, as he called for solidarity with or without the president.
“We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society,” Mattis wrote.
Mattis also seems not to be happy with the current Pentagon chief Mark Esper, although he didn’t mention his name, but said, “We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate.'”
The serving Pentagon chief Mark Esper came under heavy criticism after telling US governors on Monday that they should “dominate the battlespace” to end the protests, but had backtracked on Wednesday when he told reporters: “In retrospect, I would use different wording.”