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Merkel Changes Course on U.S. Gas Imports
The Myth of the Modernizing Dictator
SS: If President Donald Trump goes to the NATO summit in July and decides to cut back US involvement in the group, as some in the alliance believe he might, it will shake the US military to its core. It will also open the door to the real possibility that Defense Secretary James Mattis -- a decades-long advocate of alliances -- may no longer be relevant in the Trump administration and might even have to go. Those concerns are bubbling as Trump once again argued for a better relationship with Russia amid his plans to meet President Vladimir Putin, just days after Mattis issued a stark warning that Putin aims to undermine NATO and the US itself.
Article: When Jim Mattis first met Donald Trump, he warned the US president of the essential role played by Nato, the western security alliance that Mr Trump had spent months attacking for exploiting American largesse.
Mr Mattis was convincing enough for the president to appoint the retired four-star general as his defence secretary. But as the pair prepare for the Nato summit in Brussels on Wednesday, they have rarely looked further apart.
“There’s not much question that he’s a lonely warrior in this administration,” former US defence secretary Leon Panetta, who previously worked with Mr Mattis, told the Financial Times. “The president [now] appears to be operating much more by his own instincts when it comes to foreign policy and I think as a result advisers like Secretary Mattis have lost some of their influence.”
In recent weeks, the Pentagon has appeared at odds with the White House over its request for the defence department to speed up an internal assessment of whether to withdraw some or all of the 35,000 US troops based in Germany.
When the news broke, Pentagon officials rushed to inform their alarmed German counterparts earlier this month that no decision had been taken, according to national security officials and Washington observers in touch with the administration.
The Pentagon, which is frustrated by restrictive conditions in Germany, including a ban on flying helicopters at night, had already been reassessing its global troop positioning.
The White House’s renewed interest in scaling back the US presence in Germany came as Mr Trump prepared to deliver a stern message to Nato leaders. Mr Panetta said he suspected Mr Mattis was “trying to do everything possible to make sure that the Nato meeting doesn’t turn out to be the disaster that the G7 meeting was . . . and that the basic message is one of unity rather than disunity.”
Despite the effort by Mr Mattis — dubbed by one Washington observer as “the secretary for reassurance” — to strengthen alliances, serving and former officials warn Mr Trump could do anything during the Nato meeting. The president had refused to accept arguments from Berlin that it was boosting defence spending in line with his demands, saying projections still fell short of the 2 per cent target, they added.
“All he cares about is the headline number,” said a Washington-based official. “Nobody knows what’s in his head,” added a national security official.
Mr Mattis has lost battles with the president in the past, but in recent months Mr Trump has waded more heavily into defence territory. He announced a new Space Force against Pentagon advice, and failed to inform Mr Mattis the US would halt war games with South Korea. A senior defence official said Mr Mattis “was not concerned” by the prospect of suspending the military exercises.
Eric Edelman, former undersecretary of defence for policy in the Bush administration, said he had received reports of a lack of inter-agency consultation on national security, coinciding with the arrival of the hawkish new national security adviser John Bolton, whom Mr Mattis jokingly told he had heard was “the devil incarnate”.
“I’ve been told they haven’t been holding principals’ meetings for weeks,” Mr Edelman said of the top consultative meetings convened by the National Security Council.
The NSC would not provide dates or details of principals’ and deputies’ private meetings, but Garrett Marquis, NSC spokesman, said council staff “co-ordinate a robust deliberative process that brings together perspectives from across government to provide the president with integrated strategies and well-developed policy options”.
Dana White, spokeswoman for Mr Mattis, told the FT he “has breakfast frequently” with Mr Bolton and Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state.
“[He] maintains regular and robust conversations with the president and the entire national security team,” she said. “Ultimately, it is the president who decides how his agenda will be implemented.”
A senior defence official said Mr Mattis also had a “long acquaintance” with CIA director Gina Haspel, described as “a key addition” to the national security team.
But current and former officials also note a history of tension with Mr Bolton’s chosen deputy, Mira Ricardel, who was in charge of vetting defence personnel during the Trump transition.
“They banged heads repeatedly over names for senior positions,” said a person familiar with the transition, adding she was ultimately forced out of her role. The NSC said Ms Ricardel had “strong and productive relationships with leadership across the inter-agency, including the department of defence”.
Mr Trump, who appreciates high-ranking generals, by all accounts sees Mr Mattis as tough-talking war hero and likes the nickname given to him by the press — “Mad Dog”.
In the past he has reluctantly conceded to advice from Mr Mattis and others to boost troop numbers in Afghanistan rather than bring them home, and heeded his counsel on Iran, Syria and North Korea.
But in the wake of this year’s personnel shake-ups and a shrinking cohort of globalists, officials say Mr Mattis is more exposed. Some current and former officials think that if chief of staff John Kelly — a retired marine general and friend of Mr Mattis — leaves the administration, Mr Mattis could be out of the cabinet within months.
“Mattis might not be riding as high as he was six months ago, but Trump respects him, he’s in charge of the military command [and] is more important to the president than Ricardel or even Bolton,” said a person in touch with administration officials. Mr Mattis was seen as a real anchor and Mr Trump would have to “think hard” before moving against him, he added.
Mr Mattis accepts the president will not always take his advice. He eschews flattering Mr Trump but has worked hard to stay under the radar, avoiding television interviews and keeping his counsel increasingly private.
But he has also made a play for political support, said an armed service committee member, adding that he had cultivated “a lot warmer and more productive” relations with Congress than his predecessor Ash Carter, and pursued “a more collegial view”.
Mr Mattis has also chalked up successes that have won the president’s approval, helping to fulfil a Trump campaign pledge to “rebuild our military” by taking part in a months-long lobbying effort that persuaded Congress to increase defence spending
Richard Fontaine, former NSC official in the Bush administration, said Mr Mattis was seen across the bipartisan divide as “a steady hand in a tumultuous time, and a source of reassurance to America’s allies and friends”.
But he cautioned it was unclear whether these qualities appealed to Mr Trump. “Uncertainty over one’s position seems a fact of life in the Trump administration. If the president is lucky, Mattis will stay in place for the duration.”
Religion, race, culture and tribe are the four horsemen of the coming apocalypse.
Description: Europe is committing suicide. How did this happen? In this video, Douglas Murray, author of The Strange Death of Europe, explains the two major causes...
PragerU, Published on May 14, 2018
You can count the number of “true nations” on one hand. Japan? Iceland maybe? There are very few of them. Russia would shatter into dozens of pieces if “every true nation is the creation of a unique people” was really true.
Inclusion, not exclusion, is the key to survival.
Xenophobia is a big word too.
If Mattis goes, it would be after the midterms. Too much risk with the veteran / military electorate otherwise.
If Mattis went before the Midterms it would be a death kneel for Trump and most Trump supporting republicans. The Marines alone would be in an absolute furor. Mattis is widely regarded as one of Trumps best decisions. Go figure he couldn't keep that going.
And I remembered how everyone was going around saying Mattis would keep Trump in line. They would support Trump solely because of Mattis.
The mad dog is looking more like an ignored poodle.
Imagine that. Supporting a president because you believe his underling will neutralize the said president.
When he had likeminded coworkers he could use them to put a wall between his disagreements with the president, but now that he's alone, he probably finds it hard to make noise.