Defense Secretary James Mattis submitted his letter of resignation to President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying that the President needed someone whose views are aligned with his.
“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis said in the letter.
The move comes just as President Trump ordered troops to be withdrawn from Syria, a decision Mattis was “vehemently opposed” to, according to a senior administration official. He also didn’t support the withdrawal of Afghanistan troops, the official added.
Mattis’ letter of resignation criticizes the President on several of his foreign policy views, while stressing the significance of U.S. alliances and of being “unambiguous” in approaching adversaries such as Russia and China. The letter contains no praise for Trump, CNN writes.
The retired four-star general has seen his relationship with the President deteriorate over the past few months, while his efforts to influence him on any important foreign policy decision fail. In his letter, Mattis points out that U.S. alliances around the world substantially contribute to the strength of the U.S. in general. He further says that these alliances have taken a blow under Trump.
“One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Mattis notes.
Trying to downplay the defense secretary’s resignation, Trump said Thursday that Mattis was retiring.
“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” President Trump tweeted.
According to a senior White House official, who also stressed the differences Mattis and the President had on certain issues, the two men met privately in the Oval Office to discuss the secretary’s resignation.