Fox News on January 12, 2017, reported that Defense secretary nominee Gen. James Mattis issued a grave warning at his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the established world order is under its “biggest attack” since World War II as he called for boosting military readiness and America’s alliances. Excerpts below:
Citing Russia’s aggressions and other concerns, he said: “I think [the world order is] under the biggest attack since World War II … from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.”
To address this, Mattis testified, “deterrence is critical.”
His assessment came as he called for strengthening “military readiness”…He said U.S. forces must be the “best led, best equipped and most lethal in the world.”
“If you confirm me, my watchwords will be solvency and security in providing for the protection of our people and the survival of our freedoms,” he said.
The question of budget restraints at the Pentagon is a critical one for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Senator McCain warned at Thursday’s hearing that the military can’t proceed with “business as usual” as he ripped “arbitrary” congressional caps on spending.
Mattis’ testimony falls amid a packed week of confirmation hearings for top Trump Cabinet nominees, including Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.
In prepared remarks for the hearing, Mattis expressed unqualified support for traditional U.S. international alliances.
Mattis is a former leader of NATO’s transformation command, in charge of efforts to adapt the alliance’s structure and capabilities to 21st century threats.
In his testimony, he spoke about the importance of the alliance, calling for the U.S. to maintain “the strongest possible relationship with NATO.”
On the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis said he would not have personally signed the pact, but said that when America gives its word, we have to “live up to it.”
Mattis, 66, is one of three recently retired senior generals selected by Trump for top jobs in his administration.
After retiring, Mattis joined the Hoover Institution, a conservative-leaning think tank. He also is a member of the board of directors of General Dynamics, the big defense contractor.
He has remained outspoken in his concerns about Iran. In remarks last April at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mattis called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”
Mattis is best known as a battle-hardened combat officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. But he also has worked behind the scenes with senior civilian officials at the Pentagon.
Comment: Gen. Mattis will most likely be confirmed by the Senate. It is of great importance for the West as a whole that the United States will have an experienced military leader as Secretary of Defense. Mattis made clear during the Senate hearings that he regards Russia, China, and Iran along with terrorist groups to be greatest present challenges to the West. The passed 8 years have weakened the position of the United States in the world. Increased military spending is of great importance. European NATO member countries need to spend at least 2 percent of GNP on defense during the coming years. The strategically important non-aligned Sweden with defense spending of 1 percent of GNP (lowest spending in Europe) endangers NATO’s Baltic Sea area security. The present government in Stockholm refuses to increase defense spending.