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Jim Mattis blasts Obama’s ‘catastrophic decisions’ in his new book; hints at Trump thoughts

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis waits for the arrival of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence Jan. 18, 2018, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro/Department of Defense)
September 03, 2019

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis blasted former President Obama in his book that officially released today.

In Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, Mattis called out Obama by name in several areas, even indexing the former president’s name along with the words “strategic thinking lacking,” and at one point referring to Obama’s decisions as “catastrophic,” according to Washington Examiner.

While Mattis said he refused to discuss a sitting president — despite a brief mention of President Trump that seemingly indicates his objection to Trump’s leadership approach — he opened up on his experiences as U.S. Central Command chief during 2010-2013 under Obama – and he didn’t hold back on his perception of the former president.

Mattis referred to Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden as “ignoring reality” when it came to affairs in Iraq, including Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country, a decision that paved way for the expansion of Al Qaeda and ISIS.

After the U.S.-led coalition achieved “a fragile stability” in Iraq following former President George W. Bush’s directive in 2007, the Obama Administration began debating U.S. troop withdraw in Iraq in 2011, but was heavily advised to retain forces. The efforts were fruitless.

Mattis wrote that Obama “dealt with Iraq as a ‘one-off’” and withdrew troops without considering the consequences, despite Mattis’ insistent warnings that “any vacuum left in our wake would be filled by Sunni terrorists and Iran.”

He was ultimately proven right, and violence in Iraq increased in the wake of the pullout – one of several “catastrophic decisions” Obama made, according to Mattis.

“It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion,” Mattis wrote, according to Washington Examiner. “All of this was predicted — and preventable.”

Another catastrophic decision, according to Mattis, was Obama’s inaction on Syria’s Bashar Assad, despite vowing to intervene if Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.

“Old friends in NATO and in the Pacific registered dismay and incredulity that America’s reputation had been seriously weakened as a credible security partner,” Mattis said, adding that Obama’s helped Syria become “hell on earth.”

Mattis said Obama’s failures came from ignoring the guidance of his military advisers.

“At the top, then as now, there was an aura of omniscience. The assessments of the intelligence community, our diplomats, and our military had been excluded from the decision-making circle,” Mattis explained in the book.

Mattis also wrote of his firing as CENTCOM commander in December 2012, a decision he learned of via an “unauthorized phone call” an hour before the announcement was made.

“I was leaving a region aflame and in disarray. The lack of an integrated regional strategy had left us adrift, and our friends confused. We were offering no leadership or direction. I left my post deeply disturbed that we had shaken our friends’ confidence and created vacuums that our adversaries would exploit,” Mattis wrote.

Taking a jab at Obama, he said, “Acting strategically requires that political leaders make clear what they will stand for and what they will not stand for. We must mean what we say, to both allies and foes: no more false threats or failing to live up to our word.”

Though he mostly steered clear of President Trump, in an interview with The Atlantic last week, Mattis referred to a specific tweet Trump made about North Korea and Joe Biden, calling it “counterproductive and beneath the dignity of the presidency.”

“Let me put it this way. I’ve written an entire book built on the principles of respecting your troops, respecting each other, respecting your allies. Isn’t it pretty obvious how I would feel about something like that?” he added.