The next US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has been nicknamed the “mad dog.” This is not an insult but praise. He is an enthusiastic hound who is passionate about work and detail oriented. It’s said that he does not like this nickname but he is also described as the “warrior monk” because he never married, has more than 7,000 books in his library and can quote the most famous philosophers and war veterans. When asked why he carried a book with him to the battlefield, he said that technological progress had not changed the nature of war that much as the lesson for winning past wars fought with swords and spears is the same for wars fought with tanks and drones. You must understand your enemy well to defeat him.
This is why Mattis nicely criticizes his superiors in the civilian sphere who did not understand their enemies well and did not specify their targets, thus thwarting major military efforts. During the Iraqi war, US troops succeeded in achieving a swift victory in only three weeks; however, political goals were not clear or realistic and Iraq thus slipped into chaos. Out of the five wars which the US fought after emerging victorious over Nazism in World War II, it only won one. It failed in the Korean, Vietnamese, Afghan and recent Iraqi war and won Operation Desert Shield. Then-political leader George Bush Sr. clearly specified that his political aims were to liberate Kuwait and not to topple Saddam Hussein and he did not involve military commanders in a war which end they were not familiar with.
Mattis is well-known for some famous statements such as: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” However, these sound bites are crafted for media promotion and consumption and the way he actually thinks is more strategic as he has a clearer idea about the role of the US and the biggest evils which threaten the world. This is why he disagreed with President Barack Obama’s vision.
Knowing how the “mad dog,” who joined the army at the age of 18, thinks is necessary to understand the next US administration’s approach under the leadership of President Donald Trump, especially when it comes to predicting the future. Truth be told, the features of the next American administration’s policy has begun to become clearer thanks to Trump’s cabinet picks. The choices indicate a belief in a bigger role for the US in the world and actually oppose Trump’s fiery electoral promises that called for isolation and for making allies pay for the services provided to them.
Mattis aspires to restore American influence in the region and he believes in the perfect moral vision for the worldMamdouh AlMuhaini