Another barbarian in charge of US military forces
The capacity for giving command of US armed services to psychopaths seems unlimited. Just as General Stanley McChrystal goes out one door, in comes another, James Mattis, who thinks it's "fun to shoot some people".
11 July 2010
A US general once criticised for saying it was "fun to shoot some people" (see video right) has been picked by the Pentagon to replace General David Petraeus as head of the military command overseeing the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
General James Mattis, who currently heads the US Joint Forces Command in the US state of Virginia, and who previously led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, was selected to lead US Central Command, or Centcom, which oversees operations in 20 countries stretching from Egypt across the Middle East and into South and Central Asia.
Robert Gates, the defence secretary, praised Mattis as "one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers" as he announced his recommendation for the post on Thursday.
Barack Obama, the US president, must formalise the nomination before it goes to congress for approval.
Mattis was reprimanded by the Marine Corps for telling a San Diego, California conference in 2005 that "it's fun to shoot some people".
"I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," he had said during a panel discussion.
"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis said. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."
Mattis, who had been due to retire, was picked for the Centcom post after a shakeup following inappropriate comments made by General Stanley McChrystal, which led to his June 23 sacking as the US and Nato commander in Afghanistan.
General David Petraeus vacated his post as Centcom chief and agreed to assume command of the Afghan war after McChrystal and his aides were quoted making dismissive remarks about senior Obama administration officials in a Rolling Stone magazine article.
"Obviously in the wake of the Rolling Stone interview, we discussed this kind of thing," Gates said on Thursday. "And I have every confidence that General Mattis will respond to questions and speak publicly about the matters for which he is responsible in an entirely appropriate way."