U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis gives a news conference after a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal/File Photo
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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned Thursday after clashing with President Donald Trump over the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and after two years of deep disagreements over America's role in the world.Even Trump allies expressed fear over Mattis' decision to quit, believing him to be an important moderating force on the president.Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria has been sharply criticized for abandoning America's Kurdish allies, who may well face a Turkish assault once U.S. troops leave, and had been staunchly opposed by the Pentagon.Mattis, in his resignation letter, emphasized the importance of standing up for U.S. allies -- an implicit criticism of the president's decision on this issue and others.Opponents of Mattis, however, have seen him as an unwanted check on Trump.Mattis and others ultimately persuaded Trump to pour additional resources and troops into the conflict to press toward a resolution.More recently, Trump bypassed Mattis' choice for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief, was Mattis' top choice, but Trump chose Gen. Mark Milley, the chief of the Army.Mattis has determinedly kept a low public profile, striving to stay out of the news and out of Trump's line of fire.
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