In an exclusive interview with FNA, Leah Bolger said “Trump surrounds himself with Yes-men, and does not tolerate differing opinions” which is enough to “fire Gen. Mattis” after his disagreement with withdrawing US troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Former US Secretary of Defense, before his resignation, had voiced his disagreement with some other Trump’s policies, including the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Nuclear Deal) and withdrawal from the Paris Accord concerning climate change.
Leah Bolger retired from the US Navy at the rank of Commander after twenty years of active duty service. After retirement, she started her peace activities. She is the creator and coordinator of the “Drones Quilt Project” which serves to recognize the victims of US combat drones and educate people. Currently she serves as the Chair of the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: Both Republican and Democrat parties are alarmed over Gen. Mattis’s resignation. Also, some world leaders have expressed concern about his resignation. Why was Mattis’s resignation significant?
A: The Trump administration is replete with presidential appointees who are unqualified and have absolutely no experience in the area for which they have been given control; however, Gen. Mattis was one of the few exceptions. He was highly qualified, having served in the Marine Corps for 44 years, and he had a good reputation as a strategic thinker and leader, as well as bipartisan respect and support from both political parties in Congress. Because Trump is so reckless, compulsive, and inexperienced, Congress and other world leaders felt they could trust Gen. Mattis to be the “adult in the room.” Now with Mattis gone, there is no safety gate. Patrick Shanahan, the Trump-appointed acting Secretary of Defense, has no international relations or military experience. His “credentials” are that he was a former senior executive with Boeing, one of the top weapons manufacturers in the world. It will be difficult for anyone to feel good about putting someone with no experience into what is arguably one of the most powerful positions in the world.
Q: From the side of Trump, he showed good relations with Gen. Marris during his presidential campaign. Why do we see them get to the point where they cannot tolerate each other?
A: Trump surrounds himself with “Yes men”, and does not tolerate differing opinions, nor does he accept the advice of others. He is completely unable to admit that he might be wrong, or that others might know better. When he feels that he is losing the allegiance of an underling, he resorts to insults and grandstanding.
Although Gen. Mattis submitted a letter of resignation, it is profoundly obvious that he was fired after he disagreed with Trump’s proclamation via Twitter about withdrawing from Syria and Afghanistan. I believe that Trump underestimated the negative reaction he would get from all sides about his firing of Gen. Mattis.
Q: From the side of Gen. Mattis, he had criticized Trump’s worldview before he resigned. If he were a critique of the US President, what took Mattis “so long” to resign?
A: Gen. Mattis served on active duty in the Marine Corps for 44 years and he understands the President is also the Commander-in-Chief. Military personnel are trained to follow orders even if they disagree with them, although they may disobey an illegal order. I believe that Mattis respected the position of Commander-in-Chief despite his difference of opinion. I believe after Trump tweeted his major military and foreign policy decisions without consulting with Gen. Mattis (or apparently, anyone), he confronted Trump, who then fired him. It is also my guess that this had been coming for a long time.
Q: What is the main feature of whom Trump will appoint as the future Secretary of Defense?
A: Unfortunately, I believe that Trump will continue to ignore the counsel of his advisors, and will continue to act impulsively and recklessly. I believe that future appointees will be more obsequious than experienced.