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Jim Mattis: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism

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Jim Mattis: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism

Lessons in leadership from a lifetime of service, from fighting in the Marine Corps to working for President Donald Trump

The Wall Street Journal,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis takes a subtle jab at Donald Trump’s administration.

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Former Defense Secretary and retired four-star General Jim Mattis breaks the eight-month silence which followed his departure from the Trump White House with an editorial published in The Wall Street Journal. In that piece, adapted from his forthcoming book, Call Sign Chaos, Mattis explains why he chose to serve, and later, leave Trump’s administration. Mattis stops short of openly rebuking the sitting president – much to the chagrin of Trump’s opponents. He does criticize the US government for shunning allies and fostering internal divisiveness, however.


Jim Mattis accepted President Donald Trump’s invitation to serve as US Secretary of Defense out of a sense of patriotic duty.

Jim Mattis had been retired from the US Marine Corps for only three and a half years and was working as a researcher at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution when he received an unexpected phone call: President-elect Donald Trump was inviting him to interview for the job of US Secretary of Defense. In that interview, which Mattis describes as “amiable,” the stark ideological differences between Mattis and Trump became clear – especially with regard to Mattis’s forceful defense of NATO and his opposition to torture. He was surprised, then, when Trump offered him the position a few...

About the Author

Gen. Jim Mattis served as secretary of defense during the Trump administration and served in the US Marine Corps for more than four decades.

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