"Defense Secretary Mattis resigns, citing differences over the role of alliances" PBS NewsHour 12/20/2018
SUMMARY: A day after President Trump announced a surprise decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, Secretary of Defense James Mattis submitted his resignation, which will take effect in February. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Gordon joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why the policy differences between the President and Mattis were “too profound” to allow a sustainable working relationship.
"Mattis departure ‘puts our nation at risk,’ Panetta says" PBS NewsHour 12/21/2018
SUMMARY: The resignation of U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is putting our nation at risk, two top former defense and national security leaders say.
To lose Mattis “increases the danger in this country,” not only because the retired four-star general brought valuable experience to the role, but also because of his belief in some long-standing tenets of American foreign policy, said Leon Panetta, who served as secretary of defense and CIA director during the Obama administration.
In his resignation letter, Mattis pointed to the fact that he and President Donald Trump could not agree on several foreign policy and national security issues.
Richard Haass, the director of policy planning at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, said that is in some ways even more concerning than Mattis’ departure itself because it’s not clear whether the President will take the advice of whoever serves as secretary of defense next.
“Even if someone were to espouse [Mattis’ point of view] … this President simply is not going to listen,” said Haass, now the President of the Council on Foreign Relations.
"Rubio: Trump ‘about to make a major blunder’ on Syria" PBS NewsHour 12/21/2018
SUMMARY: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said President Donald Trump “is abandoning that effort [in Syria] before it is completely finished,” and that it is the job of Congress to attempt to convince him otherwise.
“I think he is about to make a major blunder” by pulling out of Syria, Rubio told the PBS NewsHour anchor and Managing Editor Judy Woodruff.
The President’s announcement this week that U.S. troops would be pulling out from Syria, where it has been aiding forces against Islamic State militants, surprised and outraged members of Congress, including some loyal to the President. Defense Secretary James Mattis on Thursday offered his resignation in a blistering letter about the importance of America’s global alliances — a decision many believe was motivated by the President’s decision on Syria.
Rubio said that what concerned him the most from Mattis’ abrupt departure was what the Defense Secretary wrote in his letter, which seemed to “confirm our fears” about upcoming decisions facing the Trump administration.
“I’m deeply concerned that we’re about to undertake a series of foreign policy decisions that are going to undermine our security, that are going to undermine our alliances and that are going to embolden our adversaries.”
"Around the world, allies express dismay at Mattis departure" PBS NewsHour 12/21/2018
SUMMARY: The resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reverberated around the world Friday. Although he disagreed with the President repeatedly over major issues, the retired four-star Marine Corps general was widely admired and seen as a stabilizing force within the administration. John Yang has global reaction to the departure of a military legend described as "a partner for all occasions."