WASHINGTON, December 3, 2016 — “The people I deal with today will be meddling, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly,” wrote the Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180). “They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil.”
It’s said retired Marine four-star Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, tapped to be President-Elect Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, carries a copy of the ancient philosopher king’s “Meditations” whenever he travels.
And Gen. Mattis certainly knows the “ugliness of evil,” which is why President Obama fired him in 2013 as head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees America’s military operations in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
He was known to ask uncomfortable questions of Obama administration officials regarding possible military contingencies for the terrorist rogue state Iran, whose military and diplomatic power in the Middle East is in ascendancy.
It’s also well known that Mattis’s views on Iran are more in keeping with the hard-nosed realist and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than with the flaccid, soft-power mewings of our lame duck Commander in Chief.
And like the aforementioned Roman Caesar, Mattis has on occasion played the sage. While commanding the 1st U.S. Marine Division in Iraq, he told the men under his command,
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
That’s good advice, whether you’re a squad-level grunt patrolling a village in some Third World hell hole or the nation’s chief executive pouring over intelligence reports.
Gen. Mattis has a second nickname, the “warrior monk.” The moniker refers to his love of books. At one point, it is said he possessed at least seven thousand volumes, with more than a few centered on military tactics and history.
He is just as comfortable discussing the North African military campaigns of WWII German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel as he is of the elephant-riding Hannibal’s Second Punic War with Imperial Rome.
The scolds at the New York Times pointed out the obvious, saying Trump’s courting of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (national security adviser), Gen. John Kelly (as a possible Secretary of State) and Gen. Mattis are fraternal brothers in that all were fired by President Obama.
“These generals share a rocky history in the Obama administration,” said the Times, adding, “For Trump, the strained history of these generals with his predecessor is less a liability than a credential.”
From the laughably misnamed Affordable Care Act to the reckless Iran nuclear deal, President Trump will have a busy first term chasing down and gutting the foolish policies of his predecessor.
It’s like Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis once said, “Be the hunter, not the hunted.”