September 19, 2014

Gen. Mattis: ‘You Just Don’t Take Anything Off the Table’

Recently retired U.S. Gen. James Mattis testified before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday regarding the ISIL threat and the question of boots on the ground. He didn’t mince words: “You just don’t take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do. Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground.’ If a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc [and] humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose. We have the most skilled, fierce and certainly the most ethical ground forces in the world and I don’t think we should reassure the enemy in advance that they will never face him.” Mattis wasn’t demanding we send troops to face enemy fighters that “aren’t that good,” but he’s correct that taking the option off the table is foolish. It’s also a politically motivated choice for a president who can’t bear to look anything like George W. Bush. Meanwhile, even Jimmy Carter gets it, saying, “I think we need to attack [ISIL].”

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