In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 file photo, U.S. Secretary for Defense Jim Mattis arrives for a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

Mattis exit not likely to damage Canada-U.S. security ties: experts

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced this week he’d resign as of the end of February

  • Dec. 21, 2018 6:00 p.m.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ decision to resign creates a void for Canada, says former Defence Minister Peter MacKay, because of Mattis’s deep understanding of Canada’s role in joint NATO and UN missions and good ties with Canadian security officials.

His years of experience in the U.S. military and on-the-ground understanding of the parts of the world where he served as a Marine general, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, are “virtually irreplaceable,” MacKay said.

After serving for two years at the top of the U.S. military machine, Mattis announced Thursday that he’d resign as of the end of February, in a move widely seen as a rebuke of Trump’s decision to abrupt withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

The retired general has been considered a moderating influence on Trump over his last two years as Pentagon chief, which is why concerns have been raised by ally nations about how his departure could affect U.S. security and foreign policy.

These concerns are particularly focused on America’s role in the NATO transatlantic alliance after Trump said this week that not only will the U.S. military pull out of Syria, but the number of U.S. troops will also be cut in half in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is part of the NATO-led joint mission Operation Resolute Support.

“In spite of the moniker ‘Mad Dog Mattis’ he was anything but. He was a highly intelligent, highly rational guy and he saw first-hand the integration of defence, diplomacy, development that Canada was doing and was very full of praise and admiration for that,” MacKay said.

Mattis’s departure is even more keenly felt in light of the departures of H.R. McMaster and John Kelly, who U.S. President Donald Trump also appointed to serve in his administration, MacKay added. McMaster was an army general who was Trump’s national-security adviser for a year; Kelly is a retired Marine general who served as secretary of homeland security and then Trump’s chief of staff.

McMaster resigned last April; Kelly is to leave the White House at the end of this year.

READ MORE: Trump looking at several candidates to replace chief of staff

“Jim Mattis and the others have and feel an abiding respect for Canada and our role in NATO and in NORAD, for our niche capabilities, what we were able to do along with others in the coalition, both the UN and NATO coalition in Afghanistan, our support role in other missions,” MacKay said. “That, too, is in some jeopardy depending on who replaces Gen. Mattis.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan makes campaign stop in Terrace and Kitimat

BC NDP leader met with local First Nations leaders, reiterated campaign promises

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

COVID-19 cases grow to 13 at B.C. First Nation near Fort St. James

“This is very serious,” says Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief

Ecosocialists nominate candidate for Stikine

Edward Quinlan is the new party’s regional director for Skeena and Bulkley Valley regions

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read