SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
3000 DEFENSE PENTAGON
WASHINGTON, DC 20301 41060
December 20, 2018
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
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 US 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. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
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. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability Within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
After its defeat in the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded its longstanding colony of the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. On February 4, 1899, just two days before the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, fighting broke out between American forces and Filipino nationalists led by Emilio Aguinaldo who sought independence rather than a change in colonial rulers. The ensuing Philippine-American War lasted three years and resulted in the death of over 4,200 American and over 20,000 Filipino combatants. As many as 200,000 Filipino civilians died from violence, famine, and disease.
The war was brutal on both sides. U.S. forces at times burned villages, implemented civilian reconcentration policies, and employed torture on suspected guerrillas, while Filipino fighters also tortured captured soldiers and terrorized civilians who cooperated with American forces. Many civilians died during the conflict as a result of the fighting, cholera and malaria epidemics, and food shortages caused by several agricultural catastrophes.
In 1907, the Philippines convened its first elected assembly, and in 1916, the Jones Act promised the nation eventual independence. The archipelago became an autonomous commonwealth in 1935, and the U.S. granted independence in 1946.
The State Department’s historical site does not have an entry on the Balangiga Massacre. The U.S. History Scene has a piece on Remembering Balangiga and The War in the Philippines. It notes that the Philippine-American War lasted from 1899-1902 and that of the 126,468 American soldiers deployed to the Philippines—4,234 did not survive. An estimated 16,000 to 20,000 Filipino soldiers died, along with 200,000 civilians. Excerpt:
The American people were horrified when they heard that almost an entire company of men had been cut down by savage Filipino attackers. The Evening World claimed, “The slaughter is the most overwhelming defeat that American arms have encountered in the Orient.” They painted a gruesome picture: “so sudden and unexpected was the onslaught and so well hemmed in were they by the barbarians that the spot became a slaughter-pen for the little band of Americans.” It reignited support for war in the Philippines. The idea that Filipinos would hack a harmless company of men to death during breakfast reinforced the idea in the American consciousness that Filipinos were brutal, savage people. It reinforced the idea that Filipinos needed American colonialism in order to become civilized.
The Balangiga massacre gave officers the justification to pursue harsher methods. General Jacob H. Smith led the charge in Samar. He gave the following instructions: “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better you will please me. I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States.” Major Littleton Waller asked to know the age limit, and Smith replied “Ten years.” These orders were immortalized in a cartoonin the New York Journal whose caption read: “Kill Every One Over Ten: Criminals because they were born ten years before we took the Philippines.” Smith asked his men to turn Samar into a “howling wilderness,” and they obliged.
Over the next year, the US Army practiced a scorched earth policy on Samar. They trudged through dangerous jungles, burning towns, taking food, and either killing the people or taking them to coastal villages for internment. Thousands of Filipinos, mostly noncombatants, were killed during the Samar campaign. It became the most gruesome campaign of the entire Philippine-American War.
For the people who lived there, it was not the events of September 28, 1901, but what came after that was the true Balangiga “massacre.” Before leaving the island, American troops revisited Balangiga, where it all began. They took the church bells that signaled the attack on that day and sent them back to the United States as war trophies, where they still reside to this day.
Read in full here.
The 3 Balangiga Bells are coming home! Secretary of Defense Mattis and PH Amb. Romualdez participated in a ceremony in Wyoming to celebrate the bells’ return to the Philippines and to highlight this milestone in the two nations’ bilateral relationship as #FriendsPartnersAllies pic.twitter.com/z5i0fhEAdP
— U.S. Embassy in the Philippines (@USEmbassyPH) November 15, 2018
PHOTO: Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez is now at the Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming for a Veterans Remembrance Ceremony where United States Defense Secretary James Mattis will announce the official return to the Philippines of the Balangiga Bells.
(Washington D.C. PE photos) pic.twitter.com/SrMfm3bWYO
— DFA Philippines (@DFAPHL) November 14, 2018
Nikki Haley asked me last year, Why is your president still not coming to the US? I said, He never will until the Bells of Balangiga are returned. She took note and added when we get the bells, no more excuse not to accept Trump's invitation. https://t.co/FreqzeYq6m
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) November 14, 2018
— The Philippine Star (@PhilippineStar) November 13, 2018
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) November 15, 2018
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) August 13, 2018
Posted: 4:51 am ET
Axios writes: “We’ve been hearing for weeks, from sources who’ve spoken to the president, that Trump is getting more and more fed up with Tillerson, who has still yet to staff his agency.” The report enumerates multiple criticisms directed at Tillerson:
1) why he still doesn’t have political appointees in the top roles at the State Department;
2) Tillerson hasn’t put in the time to build goodwill with Washington’s foreign policy community or with the media;
3) reports that Tillerson has destroyed morale at State, empowering only the tiniest inner circle;
5) Venezuela and Tom Shannon;
7) Tillerson’s Chief of Staff Margaret Peterlin
AND NOW THIS —
Posted: 2:09 am ET
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order suspending the entry of refugees to the United States for FY2017 for 120 days. The E.O also proclaimed the entry of certain aliens as “detrimental to the interests of the United States” and declared the suspension of their entry into the United States for 90 days. The aliens referred to are from countries cited under Section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C.1187(a)(12) according to the executive order. These are the same countries cited under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen.
We’ve seen folks on social media get confused about this. So let’s try this. There are 38 countries designated as Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries; citizens or nationals of these 38 countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States without a visa. However, if either of the following is true, travelers will no longer be eligible to travel to the U.S. without a visa. Instead, individuals in the following categories will have to apply for a visa using the regular appointment process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
The Trump EO banning entry and issuance of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas for 90 days uses these same seven countries. Note that citizens from these seven countries have not been banned from visa applications or entry to the United States previously. Citizens from 38 visa waiver countries who previously traveled to these seven Muslim-majority countries were not allowed to use the waiver and must submit for an interview with a consular officer at an embassy or consulate overseas.
Since it appears that DOD Secretary Mattis and DHS Secretary Kelly were out of the loop on this, would it be totally shocking if no input was asked from the State Department? No? Interagency cooperation is just the White House now? On the day President Trump was preparing to sign this EO, our embassies and consular posts worldwide were still issuing visas; all official, and valid but no longer acceptable at ports of entry as soon as the executive order took effect.
Here’s Rudddddddy with a backgrounder.
Reaction round-up below:
— Domani Spero
Francis Regan of San Francisco, CA has started a petition to nominate General James Mattis, USMC, Ret. to be the next Ambassador to the Russian Federation. Below is part of his justification:
Ambassador McFaul resigned last month to return to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, leaving us without a dedicated official envoy to Moscow. We need an Ambassador to advocate for regional stability and economic confidence. We need an Ambassador right now to be a stone in the Putin administration’s shoe, always present and felt with every step. This is not something we should expect of either the Secretary of State or the Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow, who each have other responsibilities.
Finally, we need an Ambassador with a detailed knowledge of existing US capability across every agency and department; a proven ability to deliver finely calibrated messages in volatile situations; and a keen awareness of the ability and willingness of our allies to stand beside us under any given set of circumstances.
Ambassador McFaul and General Mattis have been colleagues at the Hoover Institution for the past six weeks, where they have undoubtedly been talking through this Ukraine crisis as it has unfolded from unrest, to the shooting of protesters, to the ouster of President Yanukovych, and finally to an undeclared Russian invasion of Crimea.
As of this writing, the petition has 50 signatories. Some of the reasons given by the supporters are below:
- Because I’m a Marine and I know Mattis takes zero shit.
- Because General Mattis is a badass.
- Because I’m begging you, with tears in my eyes…
- Because Gen. Mattis has a zero-tolerance for bullshit.
- I know General Mattis personally & professionally and he is by far the answer and the patriot to what this country is facing at this time.
One supporter of this petition which is addressed to President Obama states his reason as, “Because this guy unlike the President has a set of balls.”
Obviously, that’s really going to help.
In 2013, Gen. James Mattis, known to his troops as “Mad Dog Mattis,” retired after 41 years of military service. Business Insider called him “an icon of sorts in the Marine Corps, arguably the most famous living Marine” and collected some of his unforgettable quotes. Take a look.
- Sheila Gwaltney , the current Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy Moscow; was deputy chief of mission during Amb. McFaul’s tenure; was consul general in St. Petersburg from 2008 to 2011. We understand that she is scheduled to rotate out this summer with Lynne M. Tracy, current DAS for South and Central Asia as the next DCM.
- Pamela Spratlen , U.S. Ambassador to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, who is a former No. 2 at the embassy in Kazakhstan and former consul general in Vladivostok, Russia.
- Rose Gottemoeller , undersecretary of state for arms control and international security. She just got confirmed on March 6, 2014.
Who else are you hearing?
* * *
- Legendary General James Mattis Explains What’s Happening In The Middle East Right Now (businessinsider.com)
- General James Mattis: Dealing With The Middle East Has ‘Halfway Driven Me To Drink’ (businessinsider.com)
- Putin doesnt see America as weak, former U.S. ambassador to Moscow says (star-telegram.com)
- Russia’s Duma Ratifies Crimea Annexation (rferl.org)
- U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul Blogs Farewell (diplopundit.net)
- McFaul Departure Leaves Void During Ukraine Crisis (thecable.foreignpolicy.com)
- If not Carney, then who will be nominated for Russia post? (washingtonpost.com)