Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued rare criticism of former President Barack Obama and his national security team in an interview with a Washington State high school newspaper.
Mattis characterized the Trump administration as more of a “variation on a theme” than a “dramatically different” approach from the former administration.
“He [Obama] unfortunately didn’t always have the best advisors or he didn’t listen to his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, so we missed some opportunities there,” Mattis said of his former boss.
Mattis praised former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the interview, saying, “What you have to do eventually is what then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, which was to move sanctions, economic sanctions, against them and force them to the negotiating table because they want to stay in power.”
The defense secretary was reportedly forced to retire five months early as commander of U.S. Central Command in 2013 by the Obama administration for being too hawkish on Iran. Mattis did not oppose the deal itself, but instead asked provocative questions about the long-term impact of the deal. He again highlighted in the interview that he believes “Iran is certainly the most destabilizing influence in the Middle East.”
Mattis noted in his January confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate that he would not have signed the Iranian nuclear deal, calling it an “imperfect arms control agreement.” Nevertheless, “we have to live up to it,” he advised.
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