Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Michael O’Hanlon presented recently a persuasive argument why Defense Secretary James Mattis should stay on the job for at least the duration of Trump’s first term in order to finish his current initiatives — apparently in response to unsubstantiated rumors that Mattis’s reputation has grown among some anti-Trump establishment circles as the “adult in the room” who can redirect Trump into proper lanes, or in reaction to the unsourced assertions of Bob Woodward (all denied by Mattis) that the secretary had deprecated Trump in his absence.
In truth, Mattis has never been more important to Trump. His reputation as a no-nonsense advocate of deterrence gains more resonance as we seem to be returning to more conventional, traditional, and big-power challenges from Russia, China, and Iran in the Persian Gulf. That increased deterrence is largely as a result of Trump’s cancellation of the Iran deal, tough talk on trade, Chinese provocativeness in the South China Sea, and stepped-up sanctions against Russia, including efforts to corral Vladimir Putin.
For all the talk of disruption and chaos in foreign policy, at the close of the administration’s second year, there is emerging a new strategic clarity that reflects the efforts of a superb foreign-policy team of Pompeo, Bolton, Mattis, Haley, etc.