Jim Mattis has resigned on principle as Pentagon chief after President Trump decided to slash U.S. troop presence in Syria and Afghanistan, citing in a letter the need for “a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned” with the president’s.
In his strikingly frank resignation letter, Mattis issued what amounted to a stark rebuke of Trump. He outlined his beliefs in alliances, opposition to Russia and China, being respectful to allies, and standing up to authoritarianism before concluding that Trump differed with him on key principles.
He said, “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”
Trump announced Wednesday that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Syria. There were reports Thursday that he intended to pull out thousands of troops from Afghanistan. Mattis reportedly told the White House early Thursday he needed to speak with Trump. The two met in the Oval Office at 3 p.m., and Mattis tried — and failed — to persuade Trump to keep American forces in Syria. At that point, Mattis decided to quit.
Minutes before Mattis, 68, released his letter, Trump announced via Twitter that Mattis, a former four-star general in the U.S. Marine Corps, would be retiring “with distinction” at the end of February.
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