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During the past year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has sometimes seemed to be running the Pentagon with clenched teeth. He kept quiet when President Trump made decisions that Mattis thought were wrong; he sat steely eyed in White House meetings, refusing to indulge in the idolatry toward Trump of other Cabinet members. Mattis disagreed with Trump about so many issues, it's astonishing that he lasted this long. He thought it was a mistake to quit the Iran nuclear agreement; he disagreed about creating a space force as a new military branch; he feared Trump didn't understand the dangers of nuclear confrontation with North Korea and other adversaries; he disagreed with haranguing allies and trading partners; he disliked sending regular military troops to police the border.Mattis was appalled by Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan before their mission was completed.A final "stake in the heart" for Mattis was Trump's rejection of his strong recommendation of Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief, as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump instead chose Gen. Mark Milley, the burly, tough-talking army chief.
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