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Mattis hopes Biden will drop Trump’s ‘America First’ from National Security Strategy – Trump responds

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)
November 24, 2020

President Donald Trump’s former Secretary of Defense, Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, co-wrote an op-ed on Monday in which he expressed his hope that Joe Biden will remove Trump’s “America First” approach from the U.S. national security strategy.

Mattis co-wrote the opinion article for Foreign Affairs alongside Kori Schake, the Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute; Jim Ellis, a Hoover Institute fellow and former commander of U.S. Strategic Command; and Joe Felter, another Hoover Institute fellow. The four wrote, “The United States today is undermining the foundations of an international order manifestly advantageous to U.S. interests, reflecting a basic ignorance of the extent to which both robust alliances and international institutions provide vital strategic depth.”

Mattis and the other authors added, “In practice, ‘America first’ has meant ‘America alone.’ That has damaged the country’s ability to address problems before they reach U.S. territory and has thus compounded the danger emergent threats pose.”

The authors then looked ahead to a Biden administration, following the lead of several news outlets that have called the 2020 election for the Democratic candidate even as Trump has raised legal challenges over the results.

The authors wrote, “In January, when President Joe Biden and his national security team begin to reevaluate U.S. foreign policy, we hope they will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades.”

On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted his response to Mattis’ and the other authors’ article.

Trump tweeted, “That says it all about Mattis. Obama fired him. I should have fired him sooner. Did best work after he was gone. World’s most overrated general!”

Mattis served in Trump’s administration until December 2018. Mattis announced his resignation one day after Trump said he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Following his departure from the Trump administration, Mattis declined to criticize Trump while he serves as president and said, “I quit on him. I think that says enough.” Mattis did eventually criticize Trump over his handling of civil unrest across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and, after Trump called on states to activate their National Guard troops and said he could mobilize the federal troops to respond to the rioting and unrest if the states did not respond to the unrest on their own.

According to veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book, titled “Rage,” Mattis told then-Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats that “there may come a time when we have to take collective action” because he viewed Trump as “dangerous” and “unfit.”

Trump has also criticized Mattis since his former defense secretary left the administration. Trump has said Mattis did not perform well in Afghanistan and has repeatedly called Mattis “overrated.”