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Allies express alarm at Mattis resignation as senior Republicans turn on Trump

22 December, 2018, 00:04 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • From left are Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Veterans

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican who has previously expressed support for Trump, said the defense secretary's resignation "makes it abundantly clear that we are headed towards a series of grave policy errors".

The news is certain to shock U.S. military allies, already bewildered by what they see as Trump's unpredictable, go-it-alone approach to global security, and raises questions about whether Mattis' successor will be as steadfast about traditional treaty commitments, including to NATO. "He served as a stabilizing force in a chaotic Administration that seems to be unravelling.President Trump is leading the country in the wrong direction and Secretary Mattis isn't willing to go along with it".

Mattis said on Thursday he would quit after falling out with Trump over the latter's foreign policies, including the surprise decision to pull troops out of Syria and plans for a drawdown in Afghanistan.

Although other Republican lawmakers publicly expressed concern Thursday over Mattis' resignation, McConnell chooses his words very carefully and is nearly always reluctant to publicly engage when Trump makes a controversial statement or action.

The president made promises during his campaign to stop expending money and lives on foreign wars to rebuild the United States.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner called Mattis "an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration" and voiced fears of policy driven by "the president's erratic whims". "Very sorry to see Jim Mattis stepping down", he wrote.

In response to Graham's heated denunciations of the decision, Trump tweeted, "So hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$".

When Mattis interviewed with Trump for the job in 2016, he split with the president-elect on a host of issues, including on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the use of torture. But at least one Russian official suggested that Mattis's decision to resign was natural, given the defense secretary and the president's divergent views over the USA relationship with Russia.

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It is well known that Mattis had numerous policy agreements with Trump. Mattis was a four-star general who led the US Central Command and was celebrated as a top choice to lead the world's most powerful military. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result.

"It wasn't a forced resignation", the official said.

Ms Bishop's comments are significant because there will be fears among U.S. allies that Mr Trump will replace Mr Mattis with a figure who leans more towards the President's "America first" agenda and does not share Mr Mattis' more traditional view of the USA as the bedrock of a rules-based system and a network of alliances.

Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser, said Trump was entitled to a Pentagon chief with whom he could agree.

The shrinking circle around Trump is now increasingly dominated by a small cadre of longtime Trump loyalists and family members, ex-Fox News talent and former GOP lawmakers who were backbenchers on Capitol Hill before being elevated by the president. "You have the right to have a secretary of Defense with views that are better aligned with yours".

The defense secretary said he is stepping down because of the differences in viewpoints with Mr. Trump.

In the White House, Trump installed retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Many of these Marines have now left the Trump White House amid numerous reports of disagreements or criticisms of Trump.

Trump's announcement of the Syrian troop withdrawal provoked an extraordinary backlash from the leadership of both his own Republican Party and the Democrats, as well as from the major media and state-connected Washington think tanks.

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