President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, served nearly three years as Commander of the United States Central Command — one of the most elite positions in the U.S. military. Mattis, who enlisted in the Marines in 1969, held various high command posts during the Iraq War. He is known as an intellectual.
In his well-regarded book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, author Thomas E. Ricks quotes Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales describing Mattis as “one of the most urbane and polished men I have known,” saying Mattis was capable of quoting “Homer as well as Sun Tzu.” Sun Tzu, of course, wrote the The Art of War. Ricks also revealed that Mattis never deploys without a copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet,” was one of the rules General Mattis gave to his Marines in Iraq. “There are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot, “Mattis told his troops. “There are hunters and there are victims,” Mattis said. “By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.”