People across the United States were unsettled when President Donald Trump announced via Twitter the “retirement” of Jim Mattis, Trump’s Defense Secretary who was seen by many as a levelheaded safeguard against some of the President’s more reckless foreign policy actions. Mattis’s resignation letter indicated to many that the departure wasn’t a retirement nor did it seem amiable.
Now, another letter from Mattis to Department of Defense employees is making waves for a similar reason.
Mattis farewell message: “Our Department is proven to be at its best when the times are most difficult. So keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes.” pic.twitter.com/YuxnfkutGg
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 31, 2018
In the letter, Mattis implies that the Defense Department is facing a climate in which “times are most difficult.” He goes on to instruct them to
“keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes.”
The final command echoes sentiments he expressed in his resignation letter to Donald Trump:
“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…Similarly, I believe that 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…promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.”
Mattis’s departure seemed related to Trump’s sudden decision to pull United States troops out of Syria—a decision Russia commended.
Many thought Mattis’s farewell letter to the Department of Defense was one last warning against Donald Trump.
Hidden Meaning: Trump is Foe #1
— Prudence Deare (@PrudenceDeare) December 31, 2018
Jesus! It’s written like the US is at war. I guess that it’s Mattis’ feeling. USA is at war from within.
— Marc Fortier (@m1ax) December 31, 2018
The biggest foe being the occupant in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave
— MountainMomma (@KarenBoston) December 31, 2018
A Military Man’s departure message. Some (not so) subtle subtext.
— John dunthorne (@DunthorneJohn) December 31, 2018
The middle paragraph is a gut-punch: Mattis reminds the military of its sworn role to “support and defend the Constitution” and refers to when “the times are most difficult.”
This is serious. Pay attention. https://t.co/Me05Zx1nig
— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) December 31, 2018
That means USA first, do not follow Trump.
— Andy Normandía (@cuatrostar) December 31, 2018
@realDonaldTrump in case someone misrepresents what Gen Mattis meant I’ll translate.
We are defenders of a nation not a party. Our commitment is to the nation. Defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Even if the enemy is within.
Soon you’ll be gone & we will remain.
— Angel (@angelsdelacruz_) December 31, 2018
However, a few have grown weary of subtle rebukes from departing Trump officials.
Well said, but aren't we due some public rebukes at this point?
— 🍑Mayor Pete Bootyjig🍑 (@Ericrules4real) December 31, 2018
I’m sick of the silent rebuke from the right of the madman in the White House. I want a full throated “THIS IS NOT NORMAL!” And I want it to come from someone who actually has the power to do something.
— 𝗣𝗶𝘁ó 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗺𝗽𝗶ñó𝗻 🍄🍑 (@Vulgarelitist) December 31, 2018
The reactions were far from over.