James Mattis Lowers the Boom on Obama and Biden Over Iraq
When retired Marine General James Mattis resigned his position in the Trump administration as Secretary of Defense, enemies of the president took great comfort. Mattis is a colorful, popular general who was famous for his pearls of wisdom and for the fact that he read lots of books. The resignation was over a disagreement Mattis had with the president over strategy in Syria, but that was immaterial next to the fact that the general had had enough of the president.
When Mattis published his memoirs, the left rubbed its collective hands with glee, expecting a tell-all book that would reveal that their least favorite president is some kind of boob, unable to take advice from the adults. The problem is that Mattis, possessing a streak of uncommon honor, is not going to comment on a sitting president whom he served for the time being.
That discretion did not extend to Trump’s predecessor nor to the man who would like to be the current president’s successor. For Barack Obama and Joe Biden, “Mad Dog” Mattis had no mercy.
Mattis was the commander of Central Command during the Obama administration, with responsibility for both Afghanistan and Iraq. He was not pleased with President Obama’s decision to bug out of Iraq, the theory being that the job was not done and that the withdraw of American troops would prove to be disastrous. Mattis says, with some justification, that his fears proved to be prescient since the vacuum he predicted was swiftly filled by ISIS, a terrorist army that soon proved to be more vicious and more violent than Al Qaeda could have dreamed of.
Mattis describes how he tried to tell then-Vice President Joe Biden how the then Iraqi leader, Nouri al-Maliki, was “untrustworthy” and “devious” and was plotting to purge Sunnis and Kurds from the government. Maliki had too many alliances with Iran and Syria to be allowed to remain without adult supervision. Biden, who boasts of his expertise in foreign policy, waved away Mattis’ objections, according to the Washington Examiner.
“Vice President Biden and his assistants listened politely. But as we spoke, I sensed I was making no headway in convincing the administration officials not to support Maliki. It was like talking to people who lived in wooden houses but saw no need for a fire department,” Mattis writes.
“I liked the Vice President,” Mattis writes, even after Biden teased him: ‘Know why you’re at CENTCOM?’ Biden asked him. ‘Because no one else was dumb enough to take the job.”
“I found him an admirable and amiable man. But he was past the point where he was willing to entertain a ‘good idea.’ He didn’t want to hear more; he wanted our forces out of Iraq. Whatever path led there fastest, he favored,’ Mattis wrote. “He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly.”
Mattis may have personally liked Biden, but there is no hint of affection for President Obama in his memoirs.
“Mattis believes he was vindicated by events. Obama declared the war over, but ‘Iraq slipped back into escalating violence. It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion,” Mattis continued. “All of this was predicted — and preventable.”
“Obama made ‘catastrophic decisions’ in Iraq,” Mattis concludes. And he did so because he ignored the advice coming from multiple military and civilian advisers, thinking he knew better than all of them. “At the top, then as now, there was an aura of omniscience. The assessments of the intelligence community, our diplomats, and our military had been excluded from the decision-making circle,” he wrote.
Mattis would be relieved of duty the following year. Obama had enough of the general’s continued disagreement with his strategic vision. In the meantime, Iraq descended into violence once again as ISIS established its bloody caliphate in the northern part of that country and in Syria, which also collapsed into chaos on Obama’s watch. The situation only started to right itself when Trump recalled Mattis to the colors, surging the American military along with local allies to destroy the ISIS Caliphate. In the meantime, the terrorist army had staged bloody terrorist assaults in places as far-flung as Orlando and Paris, France.
As Hot Air notes, Obama is history, struggling to hold together his threadbare legacy. But Mattis’ book provides a warning about Joe Biden, whose incompetence in the general’s view contributed to the continuing chaos in the Middle East.