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'Should've Fired Him Sooner': Trump Rips Mattis, Who Hopes Biden Will Ditch 'America First' Policy

© REUTERS / Jonathan ErnstRetired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017
Retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017 - Sputnik International
James Mattis served under Trump from 2017 to 2019. He resigned in protest against the president's decision to withdraw US troops from Syria. Earlier this year he launched a scathing attack on Trump calling him a threat to the US Constitution.

US President Donald Trump has criticised former Defence Secretary James Mattis after he expressed hope that Democrat Joe Biden, who is the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, will eliminate the America First idea from US national security policy. Taking to Twitter, Trump called Mattis the "world’s most overrated general" and said he should have fired him sooner.

​In an op-ed published on 23 November in the magazine Foreign Affairs, Mattis wrote that the policy adopted by Donald Trump had a detrimental effect on the country and highlighted the importance of US partnerships and alliances.

The article titled "Defence in Depth" was сo-written by Joe Felter, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, Kori Schake, director of foreign and defence policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and Jim Ellis, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and former commander of US Strategic Command.

"The United States today is undermining the foundations of an international order manifestly advantageous to US interests, reflecting a basic ignorance of the extent to which both robust alliances and international institutions provide vital strategic depth. In practice, 'America first' has meant 'America alone'. That has damaged the country's ability to address problems before they reach US territory and has thus compounded the danger emergent threats pose", the four authors wrote.

They also emphasised the necessity of investing in relationship with allies, saying that despite its military might the United States is unable to protect itself and its interests on its own.

"International engagement allows the United States to see and act at a distance, as threats are gathering, rather than waiting for them to assume proportions that ultimately make them much costlier and more dangerous to defeat", Mattis wrote together with his co-authors, adding that Washington should resist the temptation to maximiae US gains at the expense of nations that share its objectives.

With Us or Against Us

According to the four authors, China is the principal threat that the United States faces today, noting that Beijing is the only challenger that could potentially undermine the American way of life. At the same time, they stressed that Washington's goal is not only to "deter great-power war", but to "seek great-power peace and cooperation in advancing shared interests". In order to achieve this the United States has to maintain relationships with its historic allies, in particular with Australia, Japan, and South Korea, as well as strengthen relations with other nations like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, which, the authors say, share US interests "in maintaining a free and open region".

The most important thing, however, is to shift away from the motto "with us or against us" and forcing countries to choose between Beijing and Washington, the four authors wrote.

"A 'with us or against us' approach plays to China's advantage, because the economic prosperity of US allies and partners hinges on strong trade and investment relationships with Beijing. Rather than treating countries as pawns in a great-power competition, a better approach would emphasise common codes of behaviour and encourage states to publicly promulgate a vision for their country's sovereign future and the types of partnerships they need to pursue it", read the op-ed.

Mattis and his co-authors stressed that although cooperating with China in key areas will be difficult, it is necessary, saying "there should be opportunities" to collaborate in areas where interests overlap such as climate change, coronavirus response, and nuclear security.

They Treat Us Fairly

While the idea of America First gained prominence during the first part of the 20th century it is Donald Trump who made the policy resonate across the globe. Since the start of his presidential endeavour the businessman-turned-politician has repeatedly stated that US allies treat Washington unfairly - from trade to NATO member states' defence spending. Trump did not hesitate to back up his words with actions and withdrew the United States from a number of international agreements. Although his actions were praised by his supporters, America's allies were far from enthusiastic about the Republican's moves. The mainstream media has harshly criticised Trump's America First policy, which it said alienates Washington's allies and results in US isolation.

A SafeVote official ballot drop box for mail-in ballots is seen outside a polling site at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Washington Park location in Milwaukee, on the first day of in-person voting in Wisconsin, U.S., October 20, 2020. - Sputnik International
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Defence Secretary James Mattis served under Trump from 2017 until 2019 when he resigned in protest over the president’s decision to pull US troops from Syria. It is reported that after failing to persuade Trump to reconsider he submitted his resignation, in which he reportedly criticised the president's foreign policy.

Unlike other former members of the Trump administration, he refused to criticise Trump publicly, rarely taking jabs at the Republican. However, this summer Mattis changed his tune, harshly criticising the administration's response to large-scale protests against racial discrimination and called Trump a threat to the US Constitution.

"Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us", Mattis said in June.

Trump, who previously called Mattis an overrated general, said he fired the official, because he was no good for him or former President Barack Obama.

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