James Mattis Retires Amid Foreign Policy Shakeups

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has announced that will leave his post in February with a resignation letter in which the widely-respected former Marine general highlighted his differences with President Trump amid new plans to withdraw troops in the volatile Middle East.

“You have the right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours,” Mattis wrote to Trump, citing key issues such as the role of the United States in the international order and where national security priorities should lie — a day after Trump ordered a widely panned withdrawal from Syria and the same day as reports began to come out that the president wants to draw troops out of Afghanistan.

“While the U.S. 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,” Mattis wrote.

The announcement came after Trump surprised U.S. allies and members of Congress Wednesday by announcing he plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, and coincided with news that Trump now wants to reduce the 14,000-strong U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by as much as half. It coincided with domestic turmoil as well, Trump’s fight with Congress over a border wall and a looming partial government shutdown.

GOP consultant Ford O’Connell said this departure was inevitable, especially in this time immediately following the midterm, when such shake-ups are common.

“They’ve had irreconcilable policy differences for several months now,” O’Connell told the Herald, adding that this allows Trump to put someone into place who agrees with the president that China is the foremost national security issue facing the U.S.

Read more from Sean Philip Cotter at the Boston Herald

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