It looks like the retired four-star’s motto for his Marines in Iraq — “No better friend, no worse enemy” — is true of the man himself. Our allies may be at best nonplussed by Trump, but they know what to make of Mattis because they’ve worked and fought alongside him.
“We have a lot of military personnel who have experience working with him,” Norwegian defense minister Ine Eriksen Søreide told the Reagan National Defense Forum. (Norway has sent troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq). Soon after Mattis was picked, she said, she started getting celebratory texts from members of the Norwegian military, especially members of her country’s special forces, who worked with Mattis particularly closely.
“I’m looking forward to working with him, as are our military, who know him very well,” said the UK’s Secretary of State for Defense, Michael Fallon. Fallon pointed out to reporters that the general served alongside European allies as both NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation and as chief of US Central Command.
In both those jobs, Mattis has testified repeatedly on the Hill to the importance of allies and partners, said Sen. Dan Sullivan. That the US is “ally rich” while rivals like Russia and China are “ally poor” is a great strategic advantage, and Mattis is “very focused” on cultivating that advantage, Sullivan told the conference, before pledging to work for a speedy confirmation.