Friday, December 02, 2016

Mad Dog

Trump actually called James Mattis by his nickname “Mad Dog” when introducing him as his nominee for secretary of defense because, let’s face it, when they handed him a list of possibles, he stopped when he got to the nickname, pointed a stubby finger at the page and shouted “That’s the guy!”

Much has been made of M.D. not being a torture advocate. His position on war crimes is another matter. In the Bush years he routinely intervened to stop trials of marines for murdering civilians and other atrocities and to overturn sentences. The case I particularly followed was that of a group of marines who decided to form a rogue death squad and sneak off base at night to go out hunting for a suspected insurgent. Well, he wasn’t home, so they decided that the next best thing was just to grab and kill any random Iraqi they could find, who turned out to be an invalided former cop (and grandfather of four) who happened to live next door, Hashim Ibrahim Awad or Awad the Lame as he was known. Mattis decided that this murder wasn’t worth more than 17 months in prison (including time awaiting trial).

There are other reasons Mattis would be a bad secretary of war (at least Trump isn’t bringing Rummy out of retirement), including the important principle for a democracy of civilian leadership of the military, but his repeated acts in support of impunity for war crimes should be quite enough to demonstrate his unfitness for the office.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Assuming Congress approves Mad Dog's nomination. It's a breach of federal law to name a former military person to a presidential cabinet post who was on active duty in the previous seven years.

    Oh, but it's Trump's cabinet? Never mind.

  3. Briefly watched Mark Shields singing this guy's praises on PBS.

    He is a scholar. He’s independent. He’s thoughtful. He’s smart. He’s a great leader.

    Yay, liberals.

  4. I noticed you used the term "secretary of war" in the last paragraph.

    That is, of course, what the office was called in the period you've been focusing on, i.e., 1916. After WWII it was changed, as you know to Secretary of Defense. You use that term in your first paragraph.

    Faux pas or preference in the last one? I've always thought that Secretary of War ws in fact the better title.

  5. Deliberate. I always called Rumsfeld secretary of war and for good reason. Somehow, a "mad dog" doesn't really sound like a secretary of defense.