Mattis's Mistake
Image Courtesy: Politico

Mattis's Mistake

General James Mattis is a man of extraordinary accomplishments, genuine intellectual heft, and impressive wisdom, and his experience and mindset is distinctly North American and shaped by years of experience in the American military. He admits that, and it is to his credit.

While most Americans are deeply saddened by his plans to depart from his role as Secretary of Defense in the Trump Administration, few can blame him and even fewer can argue that he had any real choice. But that is the very argument that should be reexamined at this time.

General Mattis’s decision leaves the country more, not less, vulnerable and only serves his need to get out from under a failed Administration, not the country’s crying need for stability and safety. We are at the brink like never before, with the strongest military in the world and a failed political and governing system, totally unmoored. In a word, democracy as we have known it and the political system we have lived by for centuries have failed. Outside nations have played a big part, and so has the emergence of totalitarian leadership. But, most significantly, all constitutional safeguards have floundered. As a nation, we are flailing and at the edge.

While it is hard to get our arms around it, we must accept that the great American experiment is floundering and at the precipice. What we needed at this time is not the resignation of the last adult, but a leader of a soft coup d’etat capable of righting the ship. While such seems alien to us, it has worked elsewhere when democratically elected folks have failed their country.

General Mattis could have made this happen. He was our and democracy’s last hope.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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