The publication of Gen. James Mattis’s new book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, which he co-authored with Bing West, has been met with much attention and fanfare. Concurrent with the book release, the former secretary of defense has given a number of television and radio interviews. Most of the early responses have been positive, although a few people expressed disappointment that Mattis was reluctant to criticize Donald Trump the same way he critiqued his other former bosses, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. There’s much to admire, though, such as his impressive accomplishments, his call for the study of military history, and his refreshing views on leadership.
Indeed, it’s hard to argue with a leader as noble and successful as Mattis, particularly as he stands in contrast to the excesses and social-media tweets of the current president. He is one of the country’s most courageous battlefield commanders and effective public servants. Nevertheless, admiring Mattis’s career and personality does not require one to accept all of his ideas about American foreign policy.