Are “Fighting Generals” Like James Mattis Being Forced Out?
During wartime, the fighting generals like George Patton and Erwin Rommel are the ones who win the battles. Troops will fight to the finish for them, as they did for Tadimichi Kuribayashi at Iwo Jima.
But in peace time, only the soft generals with management skills seem to be in demand. They take orders from the top and pass them down through the chain of command. No dirt on their boots.
USMC General James Mattis was a fighting general who led the 1st Marine Division into Iraq in 2003. Dirt was on this wartime general’s boots, and not just for the photo ops. As commander of the US Central Command since 2010, however, life under a militarily soft commander-in-chief hasn’t been the same.
Rules of engagement keep officers from getting the job done, troops have to be humanitarians and goodwill ambassadors rather than do-or-die fighters. The president forced Gen. Mattis out, as one news report details, “because he rubbed civilian officials the wrong way, and forced them to answer tough questions regarding Iran.”
Even so, a popular forward has collected some of Gen. Mattis’s most memorable quotes:
1. “I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.
2. “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.”
3. “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”
4. “Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”
5. “Marines don’t know how to spell the word defeat.”
6. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
7. “The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.”
8. “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”
9. “There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.”
10. “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”
11. “There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great.”
12. “You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”
13. “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.”
14. “I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”
15. “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”
16. “Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit”
[General Mattis became Secretary of Defense in 2017 under President Donald Trump]