The Best Defense

General Mattis speaks: Don't think of vets as victims, do support U.S. involvement abroad and political compromise at home

There recently was a kerfuffle because General James Mattis, the retired Marine officer and aphorist, made some comments that seemed to some people to doubt the existence of PTSD.

So I wrote to the general to ask him for a copy of his remarks. He promptly responded, and here they are. Here also is a video of his talk, in which he improvises a bit.

I think his comments on PTSD got misinterpreted a bit. He wasn't saying that PTSD doesn't exist, he more was protesting the use of PTSD to portray vets as victims. He was telling them to be proud of their service.

On U.S. involvement in the world, he wrote in his prepared remarks that "American retreat is not a change that is welcome[d] by thoughtful elements."

On domestic politics, he wrote that in order for our government to function, we need compromise, which he called "a fundamental necessity at the heart of democratic government."

I always find General Mattis interesting and thoughtful. I still wish he had become the commandant. His defenestration at Centcom was I think the worst move the Obama administration has made in the area of military leadership. It was his ouster that made me stop and wonder what these people thought they were doing.

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The Best Defense

A thought on the gap between Snowden's supporters and his embarrassed foes

I know even young military officers who think Edward Snowden did the right thing. Hackers are heroes to some. So reading this comment in the April issue of Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute reminded me of how wide the gap is between Snowden's supporters and opponents. In listing some of the problems currently facing U.S. counterintelligence, retired Read Adm. Thomas Brooks writes:

... Added to this, of course, is the bizarre motivation of the Bradley Mannings and Edward Snowdens, who are convinced they are acting in accordance with some self-perceived higher cause, betray huge volumes of secrets not to one hostile intelligence agency but to the intelligence agencies of the entire world.

Tom again: This makes me wonder, would it have been better had Snowden just secretly provided the information to the Russians? Wouldn't that have been worse -- we wouldn't have known what had been provided, and still would have had to respond by overhauling intelligence operations, no? In fact, the only difference I can see is that such a secret transfer would have been less embarrassing to U.S. intelligence officials. And that makes me wonder how much of their anger at Snowden is driven by embarrassment rather than concern about security.

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