Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis tore into his former boss over his handling of foreign policy in his new book released Tuesday.
Mattis blasted former President Barack Obama for his “failure” regarding foreign policy in his new book “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead,” saying that the time he spent overseeing Central Command (CENTCOM) under the former president ended with him seeing “strategic frustration.”
“It was to be a time when I would witness duty and deceit, courage and cowardice, and, ultimately, strategic frustration,” wrote the former defense secretary.
He also wrote that Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden refused to listen to his advisers — including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — when it came to potentially withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011, saying that they were “ignoring reality” in the Middle Eastern state and that the removal of the troops allowed for the rise of ISIS.
“Central Command, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the new defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who had replaced Bob Gates, continued to recommend to the White House retaining a residual force, as did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” wrote Mattis, adding that they were “talking to the wind.”
Mattis continued on to write that the White House addressed the Iraq situation as a “‘one-off,’ as if the pullout of our troops there would have no regional implications, reinforcing our allies’ fears that we were abandoning them.”
“I argued strongly that any vacuum left in our wake would be filled by Sunni terrorists and Iran,” wrote the former secretary of defense.
He also went after Obama for its handling of Syria and dictator Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people, saying that the country had “totally disintegrated into hell on earth” when the former president did not follow through on his “red line” warning.
“Over the next several years, Syria totally disintegrated into hell on earth. The consequences included an accelerated refugee flow that changed the political culture of Europe, punctuated by repeated terrorist attacks. And America today lives with the consequences of emboldened adversaries and shaken allies.”
Mattis fired off one last shot in his dig against his former boss’ approach to foreign policy, calling for leaders in the U.S. to “mean what we say” when it comes to foreign dealings.
“Acting strategically requires that political leaders make clear what they will stand for and what they will not stand for,” wrote Mattis. “We must mean what we say, to both allies and foes: no more false threats or failing to live up to our word.”