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The departure of defense secretary Jim Mattis from the Trump administration, announced late Thursdayprompted concern about its timing, falling as it did one day after Donald Trump announced a surprise withdrawal from Syria and as reports circulated that the president was considering a similar withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But anxieties were motivated by deeper concerns. By this view, Mattis and his cohorts — national security adviser HR McMaster, chief of staff John Kelly and secretary of state Rex Tillerson — provided vital ballast for a ship of state prone to lurching in unpredictable ways if the president ordered, for example, the assassination of the Syrian president.
That precise order was given, journalist Bob Woodward recounted earlier this year in his book Fear. The president appears to be having trouble finding a permanent replacement as his chief of staff.
The stabilizing force of the foursome could be overstated. But with Mattis gone, analysts exhibited newfound alarm, lamenting that the last proverbial adult in the room had left it. Isolationism is a weak strategy that will harm Americans. Mattis explained in a reation letter that his reation was owing to differences with Trump on issues including how to treat allies and who counts as an enemy. That was a more benign criticism than Mattis has reportedly offered elsewhere.
Mattis denied the quote.
Rumors that Mattis would leave had circulated for months. But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. People leave. Disaster looms!
US news. With Jim Mattis gone, has the last proverbial adult left the White House? Tom McCarthynational affairs correspondent. Fri 21 Dec US Syria pullout draws Kurdish condemnation and Putin's praise.
. Trump moves towards US government shutdown with vow not to bill.
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