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The “Warrior Monk”

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Perhaps one of the most powerful cabinet members is the Secretary of Defense. Every branch of the military reports to him, so it is extremely important he has extensive experience in tactics. When the president needs to make military decisions it is the secretary’s voice that the president is most likely to listen to, so it is equally important that he has a good head on his shoulders. Luckily for America, it seems that James Mattis has both.

James Mattis began his career when he graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in history and later got a master’s degree in international security affairs from the National War College. In 1969 he joined the Marine Corps as a second lieutenant and quickly began rising through the ranks until he became the commander of the 1st Marine Division in 2002, just after 9/11, leading the first marines that set foot in Iraq. He continued to rise through the ranks until he became the commander of US central command in 2010 and later retired in 2013, thus concluding his 41 years serving as a marine.

Throughout his career, he was known to love a good a fight and actually enjoy killing his enemies.“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling,” he once said speaking about his time on the ground. His ruthless style of attack against an equally ruthless enemy earned him the nickname ‘mad dog.’

As a commander, he was always careful to ensure all of his troops kept a level and educated head. Hours before his unit began the invasion of Iraq he wrote to his troops ““Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. . . While we will move swiftly and aggressively against those who resist, we will treat all others with decency, demonstrating chivalry and soldierly compassion for people who have endured a lifetime under Saddam’s oppression.”

He is known to be an avid reader, constantly expanding his mind. He was known to carry books on roman philosophy with him on combat missions. From post to post he always insisted on taking his personal collection of 6,000 books on military tactics and philosophy. When asked about James Mattis, Robert Gates, the previous secretary of defense described him as “a man who knows what he read, he knows where he read it, and he finds these books to be part of his indispensable toolkit.  He has to have them handy.” His calculated tactics and educated mind earned him his second name ‘warrior monk’

So how will he influence the administration? Just after an hour-long meeting between Trump and the warrior monk, Trump described his stance on torture, “I said, ‘What do you think of waterboarding?’ He said — I was surprised — he said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful.’ He said, ‘I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.'” This is the complete opposite of Trump’s motto “fight fire with fire.” Mattis actually disagrees with a number of Trump’s policies and ideologies. Mattis said Russia is becoming a serious problem, while Trump is pushing for cooperation with Putin; Trump has called the media the “enemy,” while Mattis has said “I don’t have a problem with the press myself;” and, though Trump has vowed to take the oil from the Middle East, while in a recent press conference Mattis said, “we aren’t there to take anybody’s oil.”

All in all, not only is ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis a tactical scholar, level-headed soldier, and compassionate leader. It is also obvious that he will refuse to be a simple yes man. It will be interesting to watch his influence over Trump’s policies moving forward.

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The “Warrior Monk”