WASHINGTON — Former defense secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned last year after clashing with President Trump, says in a new book excerpt that “I did as well as I could for as long as I could” and warns of the dangers of a leader who is not committed to working with allies.

Mattis, who announced his resignation in December after Trump shocked American allies and overruled his advisers by announcing a withdrawal from Syria, writes in his book that he decided to depart “when my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated.”

Although Mattis’ views were no secret when he served in Trump’s Cabinet, he had resolutely maintained near total public silence since resigning eight months ago.

The immediate cause of his departure was a Trump tweet ordering an abrupt, complete military withdrawal from Syria, but Mattis was at odds with the president’s views and actions on a number of issues and offended by what he saw as Trump’s disregard of longtime U.S. alliances.

In his book excerpt, published Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, Mattis writes about the need for leaders to appreciate the value of allies without explicitly mentioning Trump, who has made a slogan of “America First.”

“Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither,” Mattis writes. “Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy. At this time, we can see storm clouds gathering. A polemicist’s role is not sufficient for a leader. A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed.”


Mattis argues for “returning to a strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can make common cause with.”

“Absent this,” he says, “we will occupy an increasingly lonely position, one that puts us at increasing risk in the world.

The excerpt follows Trump’s attendance at the 45th annual Group of Seven summit, held in France, marked by his ongoing rejection of climate change concerns of his fellow leaders of global democracies, his call for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be readmitted to the G-7 and his erratic behavior toward trade negotiations with China.

“Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead” is scheduled to be published Sept. 3.


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