Mattis Breaks With Trump, Says US Should 'Live Up' to Iran DealBy Norman Carr Jan 13, 2017
Donald Trump's pick for US Secretary of Defense General James Mattis and the nominee to head the CIA, Mike Pompeo portrayed Russian Federation as a threat during their confirmation hearings in the US Senate on Thursday.
Beyond matters of foreign policy, Mattis was also asked by Sen.
He said the U.S. faced one of the most "complicated" threat environments in decades, including an increasingly aggressive Russian Federation "threatening Europe" and "doing nothing" to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Syria.
Mattis' words about Russia contrast with Trump who dismissed claims of russian interference in the United States as fake news.
Ties between the former Cold War foes have also been strained by Ukraine and Syria.
"I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement - it's not a friendship treaty", Mattis said, responding to Sen. "That refusal to allow him to testify, despite his willingness to do so, is an insult to the House of Representatives, to this House Armed Services Committee".
Mattis was expected to testify before the House Armed Services panel about the role of civilian leadership of the military.
Asked "I'm looking for military readiness", he said, adding that he has "no plan to oppose women".
"Civilian control of the military is a fundamental tenet of the American military tradition, " he said.
He is known for strong views on Iran.
Confirmation Hearings Begin for Jeff Sessions & John Kelly
Sessions denied the allegations and told the Senate Judiciary Committee , "I am not a racist, I am not insensitive to blacks". The group said it is making an exception to its longstanding policy of not interfering with federal nominations in this case.
Regarding the Iranian nuclear agreement, Mattis said that he thought it could be adequately monitored by the US but that he needed to "see the actual data" before giving an authoritative answer.
In the House, however, the battle to secure a waiver for Mattis sparked one of the first clashes between the Trump administration and House Democrats.
In contrast, Mr Trump insisted during the presidential campaign that U.S. treaty allies and security partners should pay more for their own defence and for hosting American forces on their soil.
Later, Mattis said Israeli-Palestinian peace would serve "our vital interest". The committee voted 24-3 to approve a waiver allowing Mattis - a four-star general with four decades of experience in the Marine Corps - to serve as defense secretary despite not being seven years removed from military service, as law requires.
Mattis, 66, has been warmly received by senior defense figures among both Republicans and Democrats, who believe he will adhere to core alliances and principles, even ones challenged by Trump during his election campaign.
"He said, 'I've always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture, '" Trump told The New York Times in December of a recent conversation he had with Mattis.
"I have never gone into any fight in an all-American formation", the decorated, 44-year military veteran said.
But he added that he supported Mr Trump's "desire to engage with Russia".
Marine General John Kelly, who retired in 2016, was chosen to head the Department of Homeland Security.
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