US Defense Secretary, James Mattis announced on Thursday that he would resign at the end of February, sending a letter to President Trump saying he deserved a secretary “whose views are better aligned with yours.”
The announcement came a day after the White House said the U.S. would be withdrawing its troops from Syria, as well as reports it was also considering a drawdown in Afghanistan. Both moves have been met with opposition by Pentagon officials and members of the foreign policy establishment.
In a striking resignation letter to Trump, Mattis signaled his concern with the way Trump treated allies in NATO as well as rivals such as China and Russia.
He wrote that his “core belief” is that U.S. strength is “inextricably linked with the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have a right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote.
The letter did not mention Trump and did not include statements typically found in resignation letters about it having been an honor to serve the president. It was addressed “Dear Mr. President,” and concluded with a line about how it had been an honor to serve the nation and “our men and women in uniform.”