Warning! Although I will avoid using strong language, to get the meaning across, what General Mattis meant in the quotes below will be obvious to most of you.
Retired Marine Corps General James Norman “Mad Dog” Mattis grabbed some headlines lately when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened a missile strike on Guam.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis said simply, “The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
Kim Jong Un’s rhetoric indicates he may be tempted to call Mattis’s bluff.
Those who are familiar with Mad Dog Mattis know…
He does not bluff.
According to Wikipedia, while serving in Afghanistan as a brigadier general during the Afghanistan War, General Mattis was known as an officer who engaged his men with “real leadership”. A young Marine officer named Nathaniel Fick cited an example of that leadership when he witnessed the general in a fighting hole talking with a sergeant and lance corporal late one night: “No one would have questioned Mattis if he’d slept eight hours each night in a private room, to be woken each morning by an aide who ironed his uniforms and heated his MREs. But there he was, in the middle of a freezing night, out on the lines with his Marines.”
Oh, yes, Mattis has a heart, which he didn’t try to hide from his Marines. In 1998, then Commandant of the Marine Corps General Charles Krulak was visiting his Marine duty posts around Washington D.C. and Quantico, VA, on Christmas day. He was distributing cookies to Marines who had to stand duty on the holiday. When he stopped at Marine Corps Combat Development Command headquarters at Quantico, he discovered that Brigadier General (at that time) Mattis was standing duty as officer of the day. In the Marine Corps, general officers are not required or expected to stand such duty on any day, let alone Christmas.
Commandant Krulak asked the general why he was standing the duty.
Mattis responded, “Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family, and…I’m a bachelor. I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.”
General Mattis also showed respect for foreign cultures and people. In May, 2007, Mattis told Marines, “Whenever you show anger or disgust toward civilians, it’s a victory for al-Qaeda and other insurgents.” He countered, “Every time you wave at an Iraqi civilian, al-Qaeda rolls over in its grave.”
Though clean-shaven himself, he even encouraged Marines under his command to grow mustaches to more closely resemble the Iraqis they were working with.
Yes, General Mattis is a nice guy who wants to get along. But…
He told the Marines under his command in Iraq, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” He also said, “There is only one ‘retirement plan’ for terrorists.”
Mattis met with Iraqi military officers after their defeat in 2003. He explained that he was willing to let them keep control of their own country but implored, “We’ve backed off in good faith to try and give you a chance to straighten this problem out. But I am going to beg with you for a minute. 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.”
He summarized, “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f— with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Think anybody needed clarification?
In Afghanistan, General Mattis showed his willingness to scrap when he told his command, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a h— of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a h— of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling.”
In a recent interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson asked him, “What keeps you awake at night?”
One could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a Clint Eastwood movie when General Mattis replied, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.”
The American territory of Guam is home to about 163,000 U.S. citizens as well as a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase, and a Coast Guard group.
Simply put, a strike on Guam would be an act of war against the United States, which would raise the ire of General Mattis. With Mattis’s statement at the beginning of this post, perhaps he got Kim Jong Un’s attention. The despot backed down from his threat to hit Guam but, like a school yard bully, he had to take a shot at someone he saw as less of a threat. So he fired a missile over Japan instead. Our ally Japan.
That got Mattis’s attention.
I have a message for Kim Jong Un. Poke a dog enough times and you’re going to make him mad. You mess with a mad dog too much and you’re going to get the teeth.
That should keep Mr. Un awake at night.