U.S. President-elect Donald Trump stands with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis following their meeting at the main clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
David Ignatius, Washington Post: Mattis and Trump: The odd couple that works
As President Trump nears the 100-day benchmark, it’s a good moment to examine the relationship that has evolved between the mercurial and inexperienced commander in chief and his unflappable defense secretary, Jim Mattis.
It’s an unlikely partnership, but so far it mostly seems to work. Trump may have relatively few domestic-policy accomplishments to show after three months, but he can take credit for selecting a generally solid national-security team and for listening to its advice.
Traveling with Mattis last week in the Middle East, I had a chance to watch the delicate balancing act between a media-obsessed White House and a national-security leadership that mostly would be happy to stay out of the news.
During his meetings in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, Mattis focused on alliance issues. But the big running stories last week were about symbolic displays of U.S. military power by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and by dropping a massive weapon in Afghanistan whose nickname, “Mother of All Bombs,” was catnip for journalists. Mattis struggled to adapt to this ever-shifting information space, and his messaging wasn’t always clear.
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Update #1: Mattis Emerges As a Key Voice on National Security -- Missy Ryan, et al., Washington Post
Update #2: Update #2: How Mattis Made His Comeback -- Brian Adam Jones, Task & Purpose
WNU Editor: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis definitely has President Trump's trust and confidence .... and unlike past administrations where the White House had a tight control over the Pentagon, President Trump has made the decision to give the Pentagon some leeway on implementing war policy. I do not if this is a good approach, but I do know that for the past few years the military has felt constrained in their war against ISIS/Taliban/Al Qaeda/etc. .... they cannot make that excuse with this President.