Pentagon chief Mattis quits, citing policy differences with Trump

By Reuters, VnExpress   December 21, 2018 | 07:54 am GMT+7
Pentagon chief Mattis quits, citing policy differences with Trump
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis attends the swearing in ceremony for new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a stabilizing force in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, abruptly announced his resignation on Thursday.

He said Trump should pick a successor whose views align more with his own.

Mattis’ resigned a day after Trump announced that U.S. troops in Syria would be withdrawn, a decision that upended American policy in the region, and on the same day that officials said the president was considering a substantial U.S. pullout from the long-running conflict in Afghanistan.

"Because you have a right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position," Mattis said in his resignation letter, released by the Pentagon.

Trump, announcing Mattis’ departure on Twitter, said he would nominate a successor soon.

"General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years," he said.

Mattis joins a long list of former Trump administration senior figures who have either quit or been removed, some unceremoniously like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who Trump fired via Twitter in March.

Trump’s White House has had the highest turnover of senior-level staff of the past five presidents, according to the Brookings Institution think tank.

Speculation that Mattis might not last long in his post grew in October when Republican Trump said in a CBS interview that the general was "sort of a Democrat" and might be leaving.

Mattis, along with other national security aides, was said to have opposed Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Syria. Many U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern about the decision and asked Trump to reconsider.

Under Mattis, Vietnam and the U.S. developed strong defense ties. His resignation came several months after his second visit to Vietnam this year, after the first in Hanoi in January. 

Oc October 17, he visited the Bien Hoa military airport in the southern province of Dong Nai, a dioxin hotspot and former American airbase that will soon become the biggest-ever U.S. cleanup site for contamination left by the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (R) is with Bui Anh Chung, Deputy Commander of Vietnams Air and Air Defense Force at Bien Hoa Airport on Wednesday. Photo by Phuoc Tuan

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (R) is with Bui Anh Chung, Deputy Commander of Vietnam's Air and Air Defense Force at Bien Hoa Airport on Wednesday. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan

Mattis had told USA Today prior to the visit that Vietnam "is a growing defense partner in a number of ways."

In March, the USS Carl Vinson paid a visit toDa Nang, making it the first U.S. aircraft carrier to return to the country after the Vietnam War.

 
 
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