Last night, Donald Trump announced his choice to become Secretary of Defense, the most powerful civilian adviser to the President of the United States on issues of war and peace: Retired general James Mattis.
In an normal time, we would be talking about the problems of giving a military professional the power to exercise oversight of the military. It’s like designating a fox to guard a henhouse.
These are not normal times, Donald Trump is not a normal President-Elect, and James Mattis is a highly abnormal person.
James Mattis has said, in public, without a hint of shame, that he takes feels a sense of joy about going to war, that he likes killing people, that he thinks violence is the greatest form of entertainment he can think of.
Mattis has become infamous for saying, “Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.”
Mattis hasn’t just said this kind of thing on a single occasion, though, in a temporary outburst that doesn’t represent his true feelings. He has talked about his enjoyment and obsession with bloodshed over and over again.
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet,” Mattis said.
“There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great,” Mattis said.
“There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim. It’s really a hell of a lot of fun,” Mattis said.
These statements, and the bloodthirsty attitudes behind them, have real consequences, as when Mattis ordered the bombing of a wedding in 2004, killing men, women and children.
Was that fun for Mattis? Was it really great? Was it a hell of a hoot?
War should always be the absolute last resort. It should be the goal of every President of the United States, and every Secretary of Defense, to avoid war whenever possible.
James Mattis has declared that he will have the opposite attitude if he is confirmed as Secretary of Defense by the United States Senate. James Mattis will seek out war. He will try to launch America into war at the slightest excuse. His goal will be to start fights whenever possible
In doing so, James Mattis will use American soldiers in the way that little boys use toy soldiers. For him, it will be fun.
For the rest of us, there will be blood and death.