Mattis to Troops: ‘Hold the line until our country gets back to respecting each other’

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The President of The United States has many in the country confused–more so than usual. In a speech on Monday night, he read from a teleprompter and seemed even-keeled. Then Tuesday, he gave a speech many are characterizing as divisive. Now, Defense Secretary James Mattis is weighing in.

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Mattis, concerned over the state of our union, gave what The Hill is describing as a pep talk to U.S. troops stationed abroad. He made his remarks on his trip to three countries last week. In his talk, Mattis acknowledges that the U.S. is facing what he calls “problems.”

“Our country right now, it’s got problems we don’t have in the military,” Mattis said. “You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.”

These are powerful words from the old warrior monk. That he felt compelled to give such a reassuring speech, which could be seen as an order of sorts, is an indication that the discord that dominates our current political climate is filtering into the ranks of the U.S. military.

Mattis continued with his philosophical speech, talking about two distinct aspects of American identity: intimidation and inspiration. “We’ve got the power of intimidation, and that’s you, if someone wants to screw with our families, our country and our allies,” Mattis said. “The power of inspiration – [and] we’ll get the power of inspiration back.”

Mattis is acknowledging here, openly, that we’ve lost the power to inspire. This has been America’s greatest export for more than half a century. American music, literature, film, fashion, and the very basis of our political philosophy dominate globally.

While the idea seems depressingly pessimistic, Mattis’s approach has always been that of a realist. He isn’t prone to hyperbolic statements that make promises beyond his reach. If he says we can get it back, we can.

Proof of this may be his own willingness to “serve alongside young people like you who are so selfless and, frankly, so rambunctious.”