A Not So Mad Dog…Yet

I made this composite image in honor of U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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?

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

 

CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson asks James “Mad Dog” Mattis, “What keeps you awake at night?”

 

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7 Comments on "A Not So Mad Dog…Yet"

  1. Interesting fella!

  2. David Matthews | September 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm |

    So I read this 2-3 days ago but hadn’t gotten around to posting. Speaking of that, though she may not comment I tell Erin about each article so she knows what is on here. Now to my comments:

    While the stories are positive and heartwarming about Mattis I do not believe we should be celebrating his retaliatory comments to Kim Jung Un. I say that because responding to a threat with a threat of your own just falls into the same school yard banter that you referenced as bullying. What we, as a country, should desire out of our very public leaders is an intelligent, diplomatic response. If we back Kim Jung Un into a corner then you leave him with two options, being humiliated or starting a war. With people like him humiliation can be worse than death and thus we may be playing with fire. Considering his nuclear capabilities and the close proximity he resides from South Korea and Japan this is very dangerous rethoric for Mattis and us to be using. Moreover, though we would most definitely win a war with North Korea it would be at the expense of a huge loss of life (South Koreans, Japanese, Americans, and even civilian North Koreans that have nothing to do with the Jung Un regime). And a consideration that we have to now keep in mind is that a war, at the current time, puts one of your sons (one of my brothers) directly in harms way. With that said I did I enjoy the writing and the positive stories.

  3. David Matthews | September 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm |

    So I read this 2-3 days ago but hadn’t gotten around to posting. Speaking of that, though she may not comment I tell Erin about each article so she knows what is on here. Now to my comments:

    While the stories are positive and heartwarming about Mattis I do not believe we should be celebrating his retaliatory comments to Kim Jung Un. I say that because responding to a threat with a threat of your own just falls into the same school yard banter that you referenced as bullying. What we, as a country, should desire out of our very public leaders is an intelligent, diplomatic response. If we back Kim Jung Un into a corner then you leave him with two options, being humiliated or starting a war. With people like him humiliation can be worse than death and thus we may be playing with fire. Considering his nuclear capabilities and the close proximity he resides from South Korea and Japan this is very dangerous rethoric for Mattis and us to be using. Moreover, though we would most definitely win a war with North Korea it would be at the expense of a huge loss of life (South Koreans, Japanese, Americans, and even civilian North Koreans that have nothing to do with the Jung Un regime). And a consideration that we have to now keep in mind is that a war, at the current time, puts one of your sons (one of my brothers) directly in harms way. With that said I did I enjoy the writing and the positive stories. Did this post?

    • Thank you for your well thought out and very lucid comments. You are, of course correct in everything you say. The U.S. and North Korea have long engaged in a war of words, with both Un and his father before him frequently threatening to destroy the United States. We have generally taken the high road in the exchange, but sometimes issuing comments similar to what I quoted, not threatening directly but letting it be clearly known that we are supremely confident in our ability to defend ourselves while, at the same time, diligently pursuing diplomatic solutions.
      In your own experience as well as mine we found that usually you can find a peaceful solution to a squabble but sometimes you have to stand up to that school yard bully to prove that you won’t let him walk all over you.
      I believe that was the secretary’s intent with his comment, which was not made to Un, but to an American reporter (I believe. I can find the comment but not all the details.). In other words, it was a warning rather than a threat, although I accede that that the point of intent is moot if the person it is intended for takes it as a threat.
      Along the same lines as your comment about the cost of a war with North Korea, in a statement on June 15, General Mattis said the US would win a war against North Korea but the victory would be “at great cost”.
      Likewise, I know your comment about me keeping Bobby in mind was more to include the point and add weight to your assertions than anything else. I also know that you are aware that my family is always my preeminent concern. Knowing that a renewal of active conflict with North Korea would put my soldier/son as well as my other sons who are still of draft eligible age in danger is always on my mind. The horrible price of war is not measured in dollars, it is measured in lives ruined.
      In other words, although I applaud the fact that Mattis is plain-spoken, a renewal of active conflict with North Korea (We are technically still at war with them, as the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.) is absolutely the last thing I want. I’m hoping Un takes the comment seriously.
      In addition, I’d like to point out that during his service in the Marine Corps, General Mattis was considered to be an intellectual among the upper ranks. He was well known for issuing a reading list of recommended writings for his men to peruse.
      Anyway, again I thank you for your comments.
      Yes, it did post. 🙂

  4. Spc Matthews, Robert P | September 3, 2017 at 12:51 pm |

    That’s MY secretary of War-I mean Defense- right there. A leader and warrior. Mattis 2020 maybe? I’m proud to get to serve under him.

    • Although, as I pointed out in my comment to Scott, General Mattis is not quite the hired gun that he seems in the media, sometimes knowing that John Wayne is getting angry can serve a purpose. I voted for Jimmy Carter and still say we’ve never had a more upstanding, honorable man in the white house, but trying to placate Iraq during the hostage crisis didn’t seem to accomplish anything. We, the Marines, received a letter from one of the hostage Marines during that time saying that the best Christmas gift he could receive would be to see the entire Marine Corps marching down the street in front of the embassy. Believe me, we were ready to deliver his present.
      President Carter made an attempt to rescue the hostages with the failed, “Operation Eagle Claw” but the terrorists only took it as a sign of continued success for them.
      However, when we elected Ronald Reagan, who many Iraqis referred to as, “The Cowboy” things changed. It was common knowledge that Reagan was a man of action…and the hostages were released.
      With the test of a hydrogen bomb by North Korea which was publicized this morning, and President Trump’s falling back from his usual hyperbolic comments, but just answering a question about whether we would attack North Korea now, with, “I will be meeting General Kelly, General Mattis and other military leaders at the White House to discuss North Korea,” I am a little nervous. Hopefully the strong sanctions Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced will work, and soon.
      We’ll see.
      By the way, you are not the first one who has suggested that Mattis would be a great candidate for the presidency in 2010. I hope he has no such aspirations because a major victory over Korea could earn him a lot of votes, as our history has shown.
      Regardless, you are right in being proud to serve under him. He has shown himself to be a very intelligent and honorable person.

      Thanks again for the comment.

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