The Buzz

Ten Questions for General Mattis

10) Military Strategy: Current U.S. strategy calls for the capability to intervene literally anywhere in the world on short notice. In order to accomplish this, the United States maintains hundreds of military bases around the world, sustains the world’s most capable and widely deployed Navy, and sends U.S. Special Forces on missions inover 80 nations each year.  The use of force in recent conflicts, from Iraq to Afghanistan, has not achieved the stated objectives, and in some cases has made matters worse.  The Cato Institute has joined other security experts in calling for a strategy of military restraint that would limit itself to defending core interests, scale back the U.S. global presence, and maintain a surge capacity to project forces overseas only when and if needed, while relying on allies to do more in their own defense.  Pursuing such a strategy could save hundreds of billions of dollar in the years to come.  Some elements of this approach, such as asking allies to do more and avoiding wars of regime change and nation building, coincide with statements made by President-elect Trump on the campaign trail.  As secretary of defense, would you consider shifting U.S. strategy towards one of restraint rather than intervention?

There are obviously other issues that will face the new administration and the next secretary of defense, but learning more about how Gen. Mattis would handle the ones mentioned above will be critical in determining whether he is the right person for the job, and in framing the debate on U.S. defense and foreign policy going forward.

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

Image: Lockheed Martin