Recorded on Friday, May 11, 2018 in Washington DC.
In his first televised interview in almost a year, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis sits down with Peter Robinson to discuss a wide range of issues facing the United States Armed Forces at home and across the globe. Earlier this year, Secretary Mattis published the National Defense Strategy, the first such document in a decade. Secretary Mattis describes why the document is an important blueprint for the Armed Forces and what he hopes to accomplish by publishing it.
After a moving story about a captured Iraqi suicide bomber, Secretary Mattis describes the complicated nature of our relationship with China and the possible flash points in the South China Sea. A discussion follows about Europe and how political controversies with Russia affect our military relationship and why Secretary Mattis believes NATO is not a threat to them. Moving on to the Middle East, Secretary Mattis defines our mission in Syria, comments on the use of chemical weapons, and explains why that theater is the most complex security conundrum he’s seen in his forty-year career. He says that the refugees coming out of Syria are more traumatized than refugees he’s seen anywhere else in the world. He discusses the need to work with the international community on the refugee crisis as, “It is a tragedy much worse than anything BBC or CNN can show.”
In the Far East, Mattis describes how a coordinated effort across different departments of the US federal government and allied countries have achieved a dialogue that may lead to the denuclearization of North Korea. Secretary Mattis also makes the case that the Iranian regime and the Iranian people are different constituencies with different priorities and agendas. He relates how he is reforming the Pentagon’s provisioning and spending policies and why it’s important for the military (the seventeenth largest economy in the world) to be a responsible steward of the nation’s tax dollars.