Posted by Arab American Institute on January 09, 2017 in Blog

General James Mattis will will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, January 12th at 9:30am.

Watch online here

James Mattis is a retired United States Marine Corps General who served as Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and concurrently as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (2007 to 2010), Marine Expeditionary Force (2006-2007), Marine Corps Combat Development Command (2005-2006), and most famously the 1st Marine Division, that led Marine forces into Iraq (2002-2004). Upon retiring, he served as a consultant, board member, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution. If confirmed, Mattis would be the highest-ranking military official ever to lead the Pentagon.

The Secretary of Defense is the architect of American military actions (and inactions) and directs the operations of all military personnel overseas. The Secretary of Defense is the top advisor to the President on war and war strategy. With the U.S. deeply entangled in conflict in the Middle East, the Secretary of Defense will lead the U.S. posture towards the Syrian conflict, the coalition fight against ISIL in Iraq, our drone warfare in Yemen and elsewhere, along with much more. 

General Mattis is well-respected on both sides of the aisle, which is expected to easily earn him a Congressional waiver to accept this cabinet position. There is speculation that General Mattis might be a moderating influence within the Trump Administration, particularly on issues like torture. He will likely also be a moderator on Trump’s policy on Israel. Gen. Mattis has been acutely critical of Israeli settlements and stated an important reality that he, “paid a military security price every day as the commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel.”

With a respectable history and an important perspective, General Mattis’ confirmation hearing must focus on his vision for U.S. military engagement and how he would implement the directives he might get from President Trump. We want to know:

  • How would you escalate the U.S. military campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and how would you respect international laws of war if given directives that run counter to them, especially regarding minimizing civilian casualties?  
  • What is your analysis of the U.S. military involvement in Syria? What would be your military strategy on the ground, in the air, and for the train-and-equip program?
  • What will be the continued role for U.S. armed forces in Iraq?
  • What changes would you make to the current Obama Administration’s drone warfare program?
  • What is your approach to nonproliferation generally, and the "Iran deal" specifically?
  • Do you believe that the NATO alliance is in the national security interest of the United States?
  • Will you use torture tactics on military prisoners?