Retired Lt. General Jerry Boykin discussed the appointment of retired Marine General James Mattis for secretary of defense with SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Monday’s Breitbart News Daily.
“I would say that from the time Mattis came into the Marine Corps, he had a single focus, and that was the single focus of winning wars,” said Boykin. “Everything that he did, I believe, was in preparation for that mission. He cut through political correctness. He motivated soldiers. He spent enormous amounts of time. You know, he was not married, he didn’t have a family that he had to get home to at night. He worked long hours. Mattis, I think, has been in many ways a consummate soldier, and people recognize that. People see him as a warrior first.”
“I think the message his appointment sends to our military is probably the most important message that it could possibly be, and that is that we’re going to get back to the mission of the military. It’s not social experiments. It’s not fighting Ebola. It is fighting and winning the nation’s wars against real enemies,” Boykin said.
Kassam asked Boykin about the claim that Mattis’ appointment would jeopardize the principle of civilian control over the Pentagon.
“I think that’s always a concern, and I think we believe, as a constitutional republic, that we have to have civilian control over the military,” Boyin replied. “But I also think we have to look at our history. George Washington was the commander of the Continental Army. Andrew Jackson, Dwight Eisenhower – go through our history and recognize that we’ve had retired generals or former senior military commanders that have been in important positions. I think at a time like this that what we need is … a warrior that will restore the readiness of our military, and that is James Mattis.”
“Now, I wouldn’t want to see this be the norm,” he added. “I wouldn’t want to see us always look for a retired general. I don’t think so. But that does not mean we don’t have civilian control over the military when you put James Mattis in there because he is retired.”
Boykin said Mattis “sees the world the way it really is, not the way people would like for it to be.”
“I think he’s a realist. He’s a pragmatist. Remember that here’s a guy who reads incessantly, and he doesn’t just read for entertainment; he reads for knowledge. So over a period of 40 years, General Mattis has studied the world through his reading program. He understands the cultures in the different parts of the world. He has lived in many of those areas of the world,” he said.
“I think that Mattis is far more astute, far more well-informed on cultures, and history, and geography, and the things that have traditionally caused conflict around the world. I think he understands, for example, what China is up to,” Boykin continued. “I am quite sure that he has read the treatise Unrestricted Warfare, written a decade-and-a-half ago by two Chinese colonels who talk about how they would destroy America, how they would take over. That’s a primer, almost, to what they are doing right now, and I think Mattis is very much aware of that.”
“But I also think that he’s read a lot about al-Qaeda and its objectives, and the global Caliphate, and those types of things, and he understands what motivates ISIS and al-Qaeda and Boko Haram,” he said. “He has actually read that stuff. Most of the leadership that we’ve had in the last eight years, and even before that under the Bush administration, was not aware of this. They would bring in one expert who happened to be on the other side, talk to him, and that would be the foundation of their policies and their strategies. But Mattis has done independent study on this stuff, and I think that he understands it quite well.”
“He’s not a globalist. It’s an America First, but he certainly is a globalist in terms of his knowledge of the rest of the world,” Boykin concluded.
Kassam referred to a Politico op-ed by Mark Perry entitled “James Mattis’ 33-Year Grudge Against Iran,” which argued that Mattis was “looking for a fight in the Middle East” – or, more specifically, hoping to start a war with Iran.
Kassam sarcastically noted that the Politico piece claims that “many in the Pentagon” fear Mattis is driven by an “anti-Iran animus” and asked, “What, did they speak to two people, probably, who might have said, ‘Oh, James Mattis has a concern about Iran?’”
Boykin responded by asking, “What is an anti-Iran animus? Let’s face it: I stood in the desert on the night of the 24th of April, 1980, and watched eight good men die, some of which were Marines, as we attempted to rescue 52 Americans that were being held by the followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Now, I don’t know if you want to call that animus towards Iran or what, but if that’s animus towards Iran – that I feel that these people have a history of doing very bad things to America – then I guess I would share his animus towards Iran.”
“Look, the Iranian people, believe it or not, are pro-West,” he argued. “It’s the leadership of Iran that is so anti-America, anti-West, anti-Israel. So I think that they need to think through the words that they’re using. ‘Animus towards Iran?’ Do you think that there aren’t Americans that watched our two patrol boats being taken off the coast of Iran, and our sailors humiliated, that don’t feel some animus towards Iran, or that have watched them go out and harass our ships in the Persian Gulf, that don’t have a sense of animus towards Iran?”
“But I also think that he’s a practical man,” Boykin said of Mattis. “He will deal with this in the proper kind of way, with the proper guidance from the Commander-in-Chief. So I don’t see this as an issue, but you have to expect that the Left is going to go after him and every other nomination.”
Kassam asked Boykin for his take on the proposal for a European Union army, which some believe is “naturally intended to be either a replacement for or a usurper of NATO influence.”
“First of all, you have to go back and look at the history of the continent there and the conflict that has arisen between the cultures,” Boykin said. “I remember when Germany was unified. I was in the War College, and many of the other Europeans there said, ‘This is not going to work because the last thing that the French want to see is a unified Germany, which would make them stronger.’ I think that some of that still exists on the continent, which will make military operations without either American or British leadership more difficult.”
“Could it work? Yes, it could work,” he judged. “But I think that what Donald Trump has said is that the Europeans have not lived up to their obligations, in terms of the percentage of their Gross Domestic Product that must be spent on military materiel, military spending. That’s the marker that he’s put down. You have to start paying what you’ve committed yourself to.”
“I don’t think that a European army will be that big of a thing, quite frankly, because their first obligation will still be to NATO. And remember, it’s the same forces. They’re not building something separate from NATO. What they’re really asking to do is use the forces that are committed to NATO for problems and situations that impact only Europe. It would not draw in the same response as ‘an attack on one is an attack on all.’ I don’t think that would be part of the charter,” Boykin anticipated, drawing a contrast with the crucial article of the NATO charter that states an attack on any member nation would be seen as an attack on all of them.
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