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  • Donald Trump and Mike Pence greet retired General James Mattis (C) in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., Nov. 19, 2016.

    Donald Trump and Mike Pence greet retired General James Mattis (C) in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., Nov. 19, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 December 2016
Opinion

Trump’s top candidate for defense secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, is the latest war hawk to possibly hold a key position in the new Cabinet.

Smashing hopes for a less interventionist and aggressive U.S. foreign policy, President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he will appoint retired General James Mattis, known as “Mad Dog Mattis” who once said he found it “a hell of a lot of fun” to kill people in Afghanistan, as the next U.S. defense secretary.

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"We are going to appoint 'Mad Dog' Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we're not announcing it until Monday so don't tell anybody," Trump said at a rally in Cincinnati.

"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet," is one of Mattis many disturbing quotes.

From 2010 to 2013, Mattis headed the United States Central Command, which oversees operations stretching from the Horn of Africa through the Middle East and into Central Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

During that time, he called President Barack Obama’s administration “too weak” for pulling out of Iraq, cutting the number of troops in Afghanistan, as well as not preparing for war against “expansionist” Iran. He slammed the Iran nuclear deal as an agreement to only delay Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon.

A simple Google search for “Mattis quotes” brings up many of his pro-war and pro-killing sayings. "I'm going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years."

While the nomination of the 66-year-old Mattis will likely be popular among U.S. forces, it will have to clear a bureaucratic hurdle.

Because he retired only in 2013, Mattis will now need the U.S. Congress to waive a requirement that a defense secretary be a civilian for at least seven years before taking the top job at the Pentagon.

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If selected, Mattis will be the first former flag officer — the highest echelon of the U.S. Armed Forces — to become U.S. defense secretary since George Marshall took the job in 1950.

A man with such a profile as the head of the Pentagon and the world’s biggest military can only push his president towards more wars and destruction at times of conflict instead of seeking restraint and more diplomacy.

And Mattis is just one of a number of hawkish figures that Trump has surrounded himself with, creating a situation at odds with promises made by the president-elect during his 18-month campaign to seek fewer wars and conflicts.

Trump's picks so far include ultra-conservative Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general, hawkish Congressman Mike Pompeo as CIA director and retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn — who called Islam a “cancer” — as his national security adviser.

His choice of Steve Bannon as chief strategist — seen as an ideologue of the ultra-conservative alt-right movement – has also drawn fire.

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