This comes at a time when Gen Flynn does take T to task and emphatically defends Lt Col Vindman on his conduct and praises Vindman for not following ‘illegal’ instructions. For Gen. Mattis, he is too much of a Marine to opening criticize the commanding officer and will keep his mouth shut, and that was true all during his book promotion. Lt. Gen McMaster is writing a book, so he is surely keeping mum for a while.
Perhaps author/pundit Peter Bergin is promoting his book, but it is interesting to see that Gen John Kelly is standing up to T.
In his comments this week, Kelly also poured cold water on one of Trump’s pet foreign policy projects, some kind of nuclear deal with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, saying that he “never did think (Kim) would do anything other than play us for a while.” And Kelly pushed back on Trump’s repeated claims that the media is “the enemy of the people,” saying, “We need a free media.”
Kelly is one of several generals who have served in high-profile posts in the Trump administration; among the others were former Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, and former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
Mattis and Kelly have a deep and longstanding relationship. During the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Mattis and Kelly led the 1st Marine Division into Baghdad. When they were working for President Trump they also worked together closely.
Now that Kelly has laid down a marker with his criticisms of Trump, might Mattis? I doubt it. Mattis ducked every opportunity to do so on his book tour in September to promote his memoir, “Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.” Mattis noted in his book, "I’m old fashioned: I don’t write about sitting presidents."
As I reported in “Trump and His Generals,” at a party for Mattis in Washington, DC, to celebrate the publication of his memoir, Mary Louise Kelly, the co-anchor of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” asked Mattis what it would take for him to criticize President Trump publicly.
Could there ever come a time when he felt he had to speak out if he felt that the country was truly imperiled? Mattis became animated saying he would never do that, observing that, “Mike Flynn and John Allen—I could not disagree more strongly with what they did.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn had campaigned for Trump and had led chants of “Lock her up!” at the 2016 Republican convention, while Allen, a retired four-star Marine general like Mattis, had spoken at the Democratic convention the same year and had made his own spirited speech in favor of Hillary Clinton.
McMaster is working on his own book “Battlegrounds,” which is slated for publication this year, according to HarperCollins Publishers. On his book tour, McMaster will surely face some of the same questions that Mattis chose not to answer about Trump.