In an upcoming book by Guy Snodgrass, an aide to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, new information is revealed about President Donald Trump’s behavior over the last year including incredible descriptions of unprofessional and disturbing outbursts. One such incident shows Trump, disgruntled over a US-led coalition whose mission was to provide aid to Afghanistan, purposefully derailing a meeting with top military officials.
Snodgrass is a retired US Navy commander and Mattis’ former speechwriter and according to his book “Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon with Secretary Mattis,” in January 2018, during the Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting at the Pentagon, Mattis gave Trump the briefing on the Defense Department’s strategies and assessments.
Snodgrass said he was assisting Mattis with a PowerPoint presentation for Trump and said when preparing presentations such as those of “paramount importance” they always had to take into consideration Trump’s preferences- his likes and dislikes, if you will.
But according to Snodgrass, Trump dislikes slides with “too much information” and instead of adding a lot of statistics and explanations, Snodgrass said they liked to opt for “the more straightforward approach: just pictures.” JUST PICTURES, HE SAID.
On that particular day, according to Snodgrass, Mattis started the briefing pointing out that the President had “inherited a military that has languished for a long time… After years of reduced defense budgets and continuing resolutions, you can now ask for more money from Congress as it fits within your strategy.”
During that meeting, Mattis also brought the topic of a looming government shutdown to Trump’s attention- a shutdown that would ultimately come to pass just two days after the meeting.
Mattis said to Trump, “To be clear: You’ll have no strategy if [Congress] shuts down the government in the coming months… Trying to implement a strategy without a fully enacted budget is a hallucination, nothing more. This is the situation you inherited.”
Mattis continued and Trump just shook his head and muttered, “Just terrible … terrible situation,” said Snodgrass.
Mattis went on to talk about the country’s strength in its allies but Trump wasn’t having it. He interrupted Mattis and blasted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for not spending as much on defense as the US had. later mentioned the US’s strength in relying on its allies. Trump interrupted by railing against the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as he often has, for not spending as much on defense as the US.
NATO’s 29 members have an agreement that they will spend 2% of their GDP on defense by 2024, under the US’s spending on defense, which is about 3.4% of its GDP.
Snodgrass said Trump started with “a good point” but then completely derailed himself in typical Trump fashion. The president began by referring to himself in the third person, saying that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg “is by far the biggest fan of Trump.” Then right into the blame game, saying, “You know, I blame everything on the Democrats.”
Then hopping topics again, Trump said, “What about Afghanistan? How are we doing over there?”
Mattis tried to steer the conversation but as soon as he began speaking, Trump interrupted yet again.
Trump carried on, “We’re really not helping ourselves … We’re helping everyone else out there… You know, Kazakhstan is a very rich country. On my last visit they kept saying, ‘Oh thank you, thank you.’ Well, why aren’t they paying us? Why aren’t they fighting?”
Then, in perhaps the most shocking moment, as Trump was pointing out that he was “not impressed” by the US’s and allies’ efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, he took it a bit too far: “Seriously, who gives a shit about Afghanistan? So far we’re in for $7 trillion, fellas … $7 trillion including Iraq. Worst decision ever and we’re stuck with it.”
“Seriously, who gives a shit about Afghanistan? So far we’re in for $7 trillion, fellas … $7 trillion including Iraq. Worst decision ever and we’re stuck with it.”President Donald Trump
Trump has spoken out before against the US’s military spending in the Middle East, quoting that it had spent $6 trillion. That amount from a projection of the potential future costs that will be the result of the wars in Iraq AND Afghanistan, including also interest and veterans’ benefits up to 2056.
Snodgrass has had an impeccable career, first as a Top Gun instructor and F/A-18 pilot, then went on to serve as Mattis’ chief speechwriter for 17 months. He finally offered his resignation because of the excessive infighting between senior members of Mattis’ staff.
Mattis is a retired four-star Marine Corps general and ultimately resigned his post as defense secretary in December after two years serving. Mattis said in his resignation letter that he could no longer carry out Trump’s policies, saying that the commander in chief was entitled to a defense secretary “whose views are better aligned.”