Trump to name re­tired Gen Mat­tis for Pen­tagon

Tran­si­tion team pon­der­ing new sanc­tions on Iran

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Break­ing once more from pres­i­den­tial cus­tom, Don­ald Trump is turn­ing to a mil­i­tary man to steer the US mil­i­tary, choos­ing re­tired Gen James Mat­tis, who will be the first ca­reer of­fi­cer to lead the Pen­tagon since just af­ter World War II.

Mat­tis, 66, is a Ma­rine Corps gen­eral who re­tired in 2013 af­ter serv­ing as com­man­der of the US Cen­tral Com­mand, re­spon­si­ble for direct­ing Amer­ica’s wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump, who has re­ferred to Mat­tis by his nick­name “Mad Dog,” made the an­nounce­ment of his choice for de­fense sec­re­tary at a post­elec­tion vic­tory rally Thurs­day night in Cincin­nati.

The se­lec­tion raises ques­tions about in­creased mil­i­tary in­flu­ence in a job de­signed to en­sure civil­ian con­trol of the armed forces. Those tra­di­tional con­cerns re­volve around whether a re­cently re­tired ser­vice mem­ber would rely more on mil­i­tary so­lu­tions to in­ter­na­tional prob­lems rather than take a broader, more diplo­matic ap­proach. For Mat­tis to be con­firmed, Congress would first have to ap­prove leg­is­la­tion by­pass­ing a law that bars re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cers from be­com­ing de­fense sec­re­tary within seven years of leav­ing ac­tive duty.

Mat­tis has a rep­u­ta­tion as a bat­tle-hard­ened, tough-talk­ing Ma­rine who was en­trusted with some of the most chal­leng­ing com­mands in the US mil­i­tary. In a tweet last month, Trump de­scribed him as “A true Gen­eral’s Gen­eral!” Mat­tis would be only the sec­ond re­tired gen­eral to serve as de­fense sec­re­tary, the first be­ing Ge­orge C. Marshall in 1950-51 dur­ing the Korean War. Marshall was a much dif­fer­ent fig­ure, hav­ing pre­vi­ously served as US sec­re­tary of state and play­ing a key role in cre­at­ing closer ties with Western Europe af­ter World War II.

But Mat­tis hasn’t been free of con­tro­versy. He was crit­i­cized for re­mark­ing in 2005 that he en­joyed shoot­ing peo­ple. He also drew more re­cent scru­tiny for his in­volve­ment with the em­bat­tled biotech com­pany Ther­a­nos, where he serves on the board. Born in Pull­man, Wash­ing­ton, Mat­tis en­listed in the Ma­rine Corps in 1969, later earn­ing a history de­gree from Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity. He was com­mis­sioned as an of­fi­cer in 1972. As a lieu­tenant colonel, he led an as­sault bat­tal­ion into Kuwait dur­ing the first US war with Iraq in 1991.

Mean­while, Don­ald Trump’s tran­si­tion team is ex­am­in­ing pro­pos­als for new non-nu­clear sanc­tions on Iran, the Fi­nan­cial Times re­ported yes­ter­day, cit­ing con­gres­sional sources who have been in con­tact with the pres­i­dent-elect’s team. Of­fi­cials with Trump’s team have been in touch with fel­low Repub­li­cans in Congress, where they hold the ma­jor­ity, to dis­cuss pos­si­ble sanc­tions sep­a­rate from last year’s Iran nu­clear deal that could fo­cus on its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram or hu­man rights, the sources told the FT. “They (Trump team mem­bers) are al­ready look­ing closely at their op­tions - and that very much in­cludes non-nu­clear sanc­tions,” a con­gres­sional of­fi­cial told the me­dia out­let.

The deal that was reached last year be­tween Iran, the United States and five other world pow­ers lifted some sanc­tions against Tehran in re­turn for re­stric­tions on its nu­clear pro­gram.

Re­tired Gen James Mat­tis

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