Eliot Cohen on Jim Mattis

Nice appreciative piece:

Henceforth, the senior ranks of government can be filled only by invertebrates and opportunists, schemers and careerists. If they had policy convictions, they will meekly accept their evisceration. If they know a choice is a disaster, they will swallow hard and go along. They may try to manipulate the president, or make some feeble efforts to subvert him, but in the end they will follow him. And although patriotism may motivate some of them, the truth is that it will be the title, the office, the car, and the chance to be in the policy game that will keep them there.

They may think wistfully of the unflinching Sir Thomas More of Robert Bolt’s magnificent play about integrity in politics, A Man for All Seasons. But they will be more like Richie Rich, More’s protégé who could have chosen a better path, but who succumbed to the lure of power. And the result will be policies that take this country, its allies, and international order to disasters small and large.

Jim Mattis’s life has been shaped by the Marine motto: semper fidelis, always faithful. Against the odds, he remained faithful to his beliefs, to his subordinates, to the mission, to the country. The president who appointed him to the office might have as the motto on his phony coat of arms numquam fidelis, never loyal. His career has been one of betrayal—of business partners, of customers, of subordinates, of his wives, and as we may very possibly learn from Robert Mueller, of his country. The two codes of conduct could never really coexist, and so they have not.

Yep. The surprising thing is that Mattis stuck it out as long as he did. But also worth pointing out that Thomas More was no angel.