Both Leading Candidates To Replace Mattis Are Maximum War Hawks

Thursday, December 27, 2018
By Paul Martin

by Whitney Webb via Mint Press News,
Wed, 12/26/2018

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis would be “retiring” in February and that a replacement for Mattis would soon be named. Mattis’ departure had been the subject of speculation since late June, when it was reported that Mattis was already being kept out of the loop on major administration decisions such as the unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which Mattis had supported keeping intact. Rumors of Mattis’ exit as the Pentagon’s top official were then revived in September when it was reported that Trump was “actively discussing” his replacement.

Many top U.S. politicians — both Democrat and Republican — have mourned Mattis’ resignation. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) called news of Mattis’ departure “scary” and added that he “has been an island of stability amidst the chaos of the Trump administration.” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also somberly greeted the news, stating that he “was sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis […] will soon depart the administration,” and adding that he was “particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership.”

Similarly, major U.S. media outlets have long praised Mattis for being the “last adult in the room” in the White House and for allegedly helping to “constrain an unpredictable president.” With Mattis gone, top news outlets have warned that Trump is now “unbound.”

During his tenure, Mattis has been a proponent of many policies that hardly warrant his current treatment by the media and the political establishment as a heroic figure. Though Mattis opposed some of Trump’s policy decisions — most notably the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the administration’s withdrawal from the Iran deal — Mattis supported the genocidal Saudi-led and U.S.-backed war in Yemen up until late last month, threatened North Korea with “the destruction of its people,” and oversaw the U.S. bombings of Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa. The operation in Mosul alone was believed to have killed at least 6,000 civilians.

While Mattis was by no means a “hero,” it is almost a given that his replacement will be far more pro-war and pro-intervention than the outgoing secretary of defense, who was nicknamed “Mad Dog” for leading the U.S. attack on Iraq’s Fallujah in 2004. Indeed, back in September and now following news of Mattis’ resignation, the top contenders for the top position at the Pentagon and now being named including Senator Lindsey Graham and David Petraeus. However, a source close to the President cited by FOX News — Trump’s news outlet of choice — insists that the most likely candidates for Mattis’ post are Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), and retired General John “Jack” Keane.

The lesser of two very evil evils?

Tom Cotton, in his relatively short time as a senator, has gained a reputation for being extraordinarily hawkish, particularly regarding Iran. A long-time critic of the Iran nuclear deal, Cotton was one of the authors of a controversial letter to Iran during negotiations that was described by the Baltimore Sun as telling Tehran “to prepare for war” because the agreement could be nullified by the subsequent president. Since then, Cotton has repeatedly called for the unilateral bombing of Iran, which he insisted would only take “several days” and would not lead to a wider war.

Cotton is also markedly pro-Israel and received over $700,000 from the Emergency Committee for Israel in 2014 and nearly $1 million from that same group a year later. That same year, during the Israeli invasion of Gaza, Cotton called the Israeli military “the most moral, humanitarian fighting force in the world” despite the numerous war crimes it was committing at the time. A year later, Cotton called on Congress to supply Israel with B-52s and “bunker-buster” bombs to use against Iran.

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