“This will be a great test for Mattis.”
Defense Minister Jim Mattis is about to face one of his biggest problems after joining the Trump administration: the handling of incoming national security adviser John Bolton.
Mattis and Bolton are diametrically opposed to the two biggest national security problems facing the United States: North Korea and Iran. Mattis wants to keep the United States in Iran’s nuclear agreement; Bolton previously advocated the bombing of the country and the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement. And Mattis argues that diplomacy is the best way to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear program, while Bolton warns of negotiations, and last month called for beating North Korea.
But Mattisa gets worse. Experts tell me that Bolton is an experienced officer with the ability to exert firm pressure on his views, and this can cause Trump to listen to Mattis’s advice. “There is an open question about whether he will allow several representations to the president,” said Evelyn Farkas, a former Pentagon official. “His reputation is not very good when it comes to how he treated his colleagues in the past.”
And Mattis has already lost some of the leverage in the Trump team. President Donald Trump fired two years ago, a key ally Mattis, Rex Tillerson, as his secretary of state, and it is rumored that he is chief of staff John Kelly may soon go to the door. Mattis helped Kelly eliminate outgoing national security adviser H. R. McMaster, in part because they fought for how to deal with North Korea. But now, ironically, Mattis has to fight against an even more arrogant opponent in the White House.
“I expect more internal drama and strange waters ahead of the Pentagon,” said Derek Hall, former head of the National Security Council (NSC) and Pentagon official. “It’s likely that the trends that existed with NJC under McMaster are exponentially worse.”
Mattis faced many obstacles in his legendary military career and brief political career, but Bolton’s appointment is highly valued among them.
“This will be a great test for Mattis,” Halle told me.
Matthew Waxman, a former senior official in the George W. Bush administration, wrote to Lawfare on Friday about why Bolton could be a formidable force in his new role.
“Yes, Bolton militantly opposes the use of US military and economic force – Waxman says – I saw in him what I saw in him was an operator that has been tirelessly effective in implementing policies, or at least in the short term. ” It is worth remembering that Bolton learned from the best: he is a protégé of former Vice President Dick Cheney, a master bureaucratic fighter.
Bolton also spent many years in the republican administrations, studying the possibilities and possibilities of navigating the US capital. In his book, “Surrender is not an option”, one page after another is passed, in which his contempt for government agencies and career officials described in detail, and how he the smarter than with time, to force them to accept their point of view. (However, he is honest in how the Bush administration marginalized him while serving as ambassador to the UN, not allowing him to cut US ties with the diplomatic corps).
Bolton has another big advantage over Mattis: he will probably hold several oval office meetings every day with Trump to discuss key issues from North Korea to Iran and Syria in Afghanistan. This will help you dislodge dissident voices, including Mattis.
Meanwhile, Mattis has a very limited political experience. Joining Trump’s cabinet is his first foray into establishing US foreign policy. UU Or navigate in official Washington. However, Mattis resigned as a four-star general, which means that he has been shown to be able to fight with a good bureaucratic battle itself – the army does not reach four stars if they do not know how to deal with Washington’s ego.
But Mattis formed a famous united front with Tillerson to alienate the president’s worst foreign policy impulses, the evil Trump on this road, and lost again and again. Here is just one example: Trump still plans to relocate the US Embassy. UU To Israel to Jerusalem with the objections of Mattis and Tillerson.
The New York Times reports that Mattis told his colleagues that he has trouble working in Bolton. But Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief representative, told me: “Secretary Mattis will work well with someone the president chooses for his team.”
Mattis continues on Trump’s good favors, and there is no indication that the secretary will soon leave the administration. However, Bolton is likely to get in a good mood with the president immediately – they have points