The Washington Post reports: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday that he does not see the media as the enemy of the American people, disagreeing with a claim made Friday by President Trump about numerous outlets.
Mattis, asked directly about Trump’s criticism of the media, said he has had “some rather contentious times with the press” but considers the institution “a constituency that we deal with.” The defense secretary added: “I don’t have any issues with the press myself.”
The comments came during a trip to Europe and the Middle East intended to reassure allies and gather information about ongoing operations. Mattis, a retired Marine general, also acknowledged concerns about the administration raised by Army Gen. Raymond “Tony” Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command. Thomas said at a conference Tuesday that “our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil” and that he hopes “they sort it out soon because we’re a nation at war.”
Mattis said Sunday that he has been talking with a “fair number of military commanders around the world” and believes Thomas was “probably taken a bit out of context because we all want to see everything moving smoothly.” But Mattis also acknowledged the chaotic nature of Trump’s administration so far.
“Welcome to democracy,” Mattis said. “It’s at times wildly contentious. It’s at times quite sporting. But the bottom line is this is the best form of government that we can come up with. So, the military’s job is to hold the line, and to hold the line, and to hold the line while our government sorts out the way ahead and our people speak. We don’t have any disarray inside the military, and that’s where my responsibility resides.” [Continue reading…]
Robin Wright writes: Trump’s baffling foreign policy is a central focus of the annual Munich Security Conference this weekend. Top officials from almost fifty countries — including Mattis and Vice-President Mike Pence — are attending the three-day event, which is the premier global forum on security policy. The preparatory report — written by an international team as the official “conversation starter” — uses stark language about the new American President. “The worries are that Trump will embark on a foreign policy based on superficial quick wins, zero-sum games, and mostly bilateral transactions — and that he may ignore the value of international order building, steady alliances, and strategic thinking,” it says. “Or, maybe worse, that he sees foreign and security policy as a game to be used whenever he needs distractions for domestic political purposes.” The report, “Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?” adds candidly, “What is uncertain is how Trump’s core beliefs will translate into policy (and whether policies will be coherent).”
In an ominous introductory note, the conference’s chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger, a widely respected former German Ambassador to Washington, warns of the dangers to global order if the United States reneges on international commitments and pursues a more unilateralist and nationalistic agenda. He writes, “We may, then, be on the brink of a post-Western age, one in which non-Western actors are shaping international affairs, often in parallel or even to the detriment of precisely those multilateral frameworks that have formed the bedrock of the liberal international order since 1945. Are we entering a post-order world?” [Continue reading…]