Patterico's Pontifications

7/10/2017

High School Reporter’s Unexpected Interview With Secretary Of Defense James Mattis

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:19 pm

[guest post by Dana]

No matter how one feels about Donald Trump being elected president, I think it’s safe to say that most Americans are pleased with his selection of James Mattis for Secretary of Defense.

With that, back in May when the Washington Post published a photo with James Mattis’s phone number on it, a motivated reporter called the number, and then texted Mattis to request an interview. To the young high school reporter’s surprise, Mattis said yes. Teddy Fisher is a reporter for the Mercer Island High School Islander newspaper. The interview took place on Memorial Day, but did not appear in the school paper until late June. Here are a few excerpts from the excellent, content-rich and informative interview. Subjects covered, and providing much to chew over, include foreign policy, national policy, political ideologies, the Middle East, Iran, and advice for high schoolers. But if you think the interview is geared for high schoolers, think again: “I speak the same to high schoolers, college grads, or congressmen,” [Mattis] said. “I’ve found high schoolers to be plenty bright.”

Excerpts:

TEDDY: You said as a nominee for secretary of defense that the military had to be more lethal, but how does diplomacy play a role in your position when dealing with foreign powers?

The reason I say that is, as much as I’d like to live in a world where people who are out to do others harm would be willing to listen to rational thought, not everyone is.
MATTIS: The way that you get your diplomats listened to in an imperfect world is you make certain you back them up with hard power. The reason I say that is, as much as I’d like to live in a world where people who are out to do others harm would be willing to listen to rational thought, not everyone is.

So what you have to do is make certain that your foreign policy is led by the diplomats, not by the military. I meet for breakfast once a week with Secretary of State Tillerson and I’ll advise him on the military factors for his foreign policy, but I do not believe that military issues should lead in foreign policy. I think that’s where diplomats lead and the military then reinforces the diplomats.

[…]

TEDDY: How will the U.S. help rebuild Arab countries after ISIS is inevitably defeated? How can the U.S. avoid creating power vacuums?

The point I would make there is that, you don’t have to have the Americans do it all.
MATTIS: Well the first thing, I think is your thesis Teddy. Secretary Tillerson ran a conference here about seven weeks ago on Washington D.C. and it was the Defeat ISIS Coalition, so of course I spoke at it because I coordinate the military aspects. It was 65 countries, it was Interpol, the international police organization that tracks the foreign fighters for all the world’s police departments. It was the European Union, the Arab league, and also now NATO as of last week, has joined the Defeat ISIS Coalition. The point I would make there is that, you don’t have to have the Americans do it all. There are many nations that said, if you will lead, we will contribute. For example, we had contributions, donations, committed to heavily by the Sunni Arab nations to the tune of several billion dollars.

I think what you want to do is, the Americans can lead it in terms of organization because many nations don’t trust each other as much as they trust America, no matter what you read in the newspapers right now. We spent 85 percent of the Defeat ISIS meeting not talking about the military aspects, but talking about what you’re asking about, which is how do we stop this from just sprouting a new group. And that’s going to be an international effort and we likened it, if you’ve read about the Marshall plan after World War II when the Americans, three years after we defeated the fascists in Germany, the Nazis in Germany the fascists in Japan, we turn around three years later, 36 months later, and offered to help them rebuild.

And look at us today, where Germany and Japan are two of our strongest allies in the United Nations, in NATO, in the Pacific. I think what you want to do is look at the Marshall Plan, but instead of the American’s carrying the full burden or even the heaviest burden, look at all the nations in the world since many nations have become wealthy since World War II, and see it as being an international effort.

[…]

TEDDY: Is Iran the most dangerous country in the Middle East?

Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East.
MATTIS: It’s certainly the country that is the only reason Assad has been able to stay in power. For example, for so long when Russia vetoed the United Nations so they couldn’t do anything about it, the only reason that Assad is still in power and has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and allowed the terrorists a place to set up camp and millions, literally millions of people, forced out of their homes with nothing but what they could cram into a car or put on their back, it’s all because of Iran.

Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East and when I would travel to Cairo or Tel Aviv or Riyadh and from Arabs from Jews, all the people in the region, that is their view of Iran. It certainly was my biggest problem when I was the commander of U.S. Central Command. But again, it’s not Iran, it’s the Iranian regime. Most of the Iranian people, I’ve known enough Iranian people or talked to Americans who grew up in Iran and it’s not them, it’s the regime.

(Q: Did any “professional” journalists think to contact Mattis directly and request an interview?)

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

27 Responses to “High School Reporter’s Unexpected Interview With Secretary Of Defense James Mattis”

  1. This:

    I would tell you that no matter what you’re going to go into, whether it be business or politics or international relations or domestic politics, I don’t think you can go wrong if you maintain an avid interest in history. The reason I say that is you’ll find that really, there’s nothing new under the sun, other than some of the technology we use.

    The human condition, the aspirations, the dreams, the problems that are associated with being social animals, not being a hermit and living alone, but having to interact with others, whether it be your local school district, your community, your state, your county, your national, your international relations, history will show you not all the answers, but it’ll tell you a lot of the questions to ask and furthermore, it will show you how other people have dealt successfully or unsuccessfully with similar type issues. I wish now looking back on it, if I’d known what waited for me in life, I would have put a lot more attention into history.

    Dana (023079)

  2. 1 – is that another excerpt? If so, I agree wholeheartedly to the point that my reading for the last three decades has been 90% non-fiction, and most of that history.

    harkin (7833f6)

  3. Yes, it is another excerpt.

    Dana (023079)

  4. Greetings:

    So does Secretary Mattis now forego the “I didn’t bring my artillery” bit for everyone or just the high schoolers ???

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  5. To the young high school reporter’s surprise

    Good get. And too cool for school.

    ‘School’s out for the summer’ – Alice Cooper, ‘School’s Out’ 1972

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  6. Good find, Dana. That’s a great interview by a thoughtful kid. Is there any better advice than this?

    So just look for ways to help others all the way along, Teddy, and you’ll never go far wrong if you’re always looking to do that. You won’t get all caught up in your own problems if you’re out helping others overcome theirs.

    And you keep asking these kind of questions Teddy. You’re asking good, very good questions and just try to keep an open mind. There’ll be a lot of people who want to tell you what to think in this world. If you read a lot of history you’ll thank them for their help but you won’t be governed by what someone else has told you to think.

    That’s why Mattis is the most admired military leader alive by all who know him.

    crazy (11d38b)

  7. Teddy Fisher, putting our MSM to shame. A great interview between two great Americans.

    Lenny (5ea732)

  8. It’s Mr. General Mattis speaking, but in his voice I hear the measured wisdom of President Trump.

    They make a fantastic team.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  9. I think maybe something is wrong with the transcript.

    It looks like the interviewer first trioes answering his own question. Is that really an excerpt from the answer that Mattis gave?

    And we have this:

    http://mihsislander.org/2017/06/full-transcript-james-mattis-interview/

    TEDDY: Why do you believe organizations like USAID and the Millennium Challenge are so important to foreign policy and for preventing conflict? What do you think will happen if a new budget cuts that funding?
    As Winston Churchill put it, once the American people exhaust all the alternatives, they’ll do the right thing.
    MATTIS: First of all, the budget. There’s nothing in the constitution that says the president sends a budget to congress. I’ve read the constitution a couple times and Article I of the constitution says it’s up to congress how much to tax, and how much of the money in the budget goes where. So, we’ve fallen into this in the last 70 years or so where the president sends a proposed budget to congress and they can do with it what they wish. Congress will not probably tolerate all those cuts anyway.

    But the bottom line is that in some cases, we admit, there’s been a large amount of waste, I understand that. But I think the solution is to fix those programs and to try to make the programs work, make them something the American people can be proud of. In many parts of the country, there is crumbling infrastructure, there are schools that need help and all. So I think once in awhile, people understand if we want to vote people into office that say “let’s stop this, stop working on other people’s problems.” But I think eventually, as Winston Churchill put it, once the American people exhaust all the alternatives, they’ll do the right thing. I think we’ll see the right thing done on this.

    The Winston Churchill quote is repeated twice, first as coming from
    Teddy Fisher and then from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  10. The first sentences of the “replies” all seem to be extracted from Mattis’s answer.

    Sammy Finkelman (02a146)

  11. Perfect example of the karma of alternate facts. Slavish supporters of Dystrumpya like the Federalist will find their ‘thoughtful’ analyses dismissed out of hand without a backward glance.

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/07/10/obamacares-basket-insurance-mandates-first-thing-go/

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  12. Sammy Finkleman,

    My apologies – I forgot to include the link to the full interview. It’s there now at “Excerpts”.

    Dana (023079)

  13. Once lost, credibility may be irretrievable.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  14. So sorry dana..wrong thread.

    Ben burn (b3d5ab)

  15. Thanks for clarifying, Ben burn. I was a bit taken aback.

    Dana (023079)

  16. Always remember that the Lord helps those who help themselves. All this Pollyanna nonsense about ‘helping others’ is pure ‘virtue signalling’ and completely at odds with President Trump’s ‘America First’ policies.

    Since the end of WW-2 we’ve been ‘helping others’ to the point our nation is now barely capable of helping our own citizens retain their Constitutional rights in the face of successive administrations putting the interests of foreginers and illegal aliens first.

    Let’s resolve to make our own nation prosperous, law abibing, peaceful, free, and healthy before we squander our hard won birthrights trying to ‘help others’ who would best be served by helping themselves.

    ropelight (706dd9)

  17. “Teddy Fisher, putting our MSM to shame. A great interview between two great Americans.”

    My gosh when a high school kid can add more relevant material on the new administration in one interview than a conservative blogger can in multiple “what if??” posts, you really can see the disconnection.

    harkin (7833f6)

  18. Always remember that the Lord helps those who help themselves. All this Pollyanna nonsense about ‘helping others’ is pure ‘virtue signalling’ and completely at odds with President Trump’s ‘America First’ policies.”

    Disagree inasmuch as some of America’s best foreign policies have been helping other nations help themselves.

    It’s when there are no conditions or democratic return on capital investment that we get took and there has been more than enough examples of that, especially with the previous administration.

    harkin (7833f6)

  19. It is obvious Teddy’s father was significantly involved in the formation of the great questions. still, an amazing accomplishment by the young lad.

    I never understood why Mattis was so freakin’ deferential to HRC and I do not get it now. He rips the stew out of BHO’s foreign policy and he gives the SecState a free pass. It is very, very, difficult to trust Mattis.

    He is entirely correct as to living an other-centered life. Too bad his boss is a walking antithesis.

    Ed from SFV (3400a5)

  20. “My gosh when a high school kid can add more relevant material on the new administration in one interview than a conservative blogger can in multiple “what if??” posts, you really can see the disconnection.”

    – harkin

    That comment says way more about your confirmation bias than it says about Patterico’s outlook.

    Leviticus (efada1)

  21. “That comment says standards still apply regardless of what people say…..”

    Fyp

    harkin (7833f6)

  22. Btw – accusing anyone of confirmation bias who isn’t spouting the Trump/Russia collusion extravaganza is truly spectacular.

    harkin (7833f6)

  23. everyone should stop doing confirmation bias

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  24. Meanwhile, amongst less accomplished Alabamians, I have indeed seen it all: Luther Strange put out a pop up web ad accusing Mo Brooks of starting out as Never Trump.

    urbanleftbehind (847a06)

  25. good job on taking the confirmation bias down a notch you guys

    it’s been hours since Mr. harkin’s slip up there

    way to focus and execute

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  26. oh dear

    just when you think our commie slut-pope can’t be more useless

    Gluten-Free Host A No-Go, Pope Says

    The bread used for celebrating the Eucharist must contain some gluten, said the Vatican, but there is still a way for many celiac sufferers to receive the sacrament.

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  27. Great post, Dana.

    nk (dbc370)


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