Just one day after President Trump declared victory over ISIS in Syria and announced that all of the U.S. troops there would be withdrawn, Defense Secretary James Mattis has resigned. Secretary Mattis, citing irreconcilable policy differences with President Trump, made the announcement Thursday. The news was wholly unexpected and has shocked many in Washington.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in his letter to the President.
“Mattis’ resignation letter amounts to a rebuke of several of Trump’s foreign policy views,” CNN writes, “with the outgoing defense secretary touting the importance of US alliances and of being ‘unambiguous’ in approaching adversaries like Russia and China. It is devoid of any praise for the President.”
Mattis’s letter was professional, yet highly critical of Trump’s foreign policy positions.
“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” he wrote.
Mattis went to The White House Thursday to personally deliver his resignation. During that visit, he met with Trump in the Oval Office. What the two discussed remains between them.
“They had differences on some issues,” one White House official told CNN, but the source wouldn’t comment on Syria specifically.
Instead, it had been brewing for a while, they implied. “Just over the course of the last couple of months.”
Trump was the first to break the news: “General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Trump tweeted.
A successor will be named shortly. What’s next for Mattis? The President seems to think he’s resigning, yet that’s not how Mattis has framed it in his resignation letter.