The US Senate has backed a waiver allowing General James Mattis to become the next Secretary of Defense.
President-elect Donald Trump nominated him, despite Mattis not having notched up the seven years outside the armed forced required to take up the position. He retired from the Marine corps just three and a half years ago.
As has been the case with other confirmation hearings, Russia was a hot topic.Senator John McCain Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and fellow Republican John McCain asked Mattis: “Should we ignore the lessons of history in our relationship with Vladimir Putin? And what should we be doing?” General James Mattis “Since Yalta we have had a long list of times that we tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard and I think right now the most important thing is that we recognise the reality of what we deal with with Mr Putin and we recognise that he is trying to break the North Atlantic Alliance.”
During his election campaign, Trump appeared unconcerned about the future of NATO.
“I will make a long statement about NATO, talking about the fact that many countries are not paying their fair share,” he said during a televised speech.
“That means we are protecting them and they are getting all sorts of military protection and other things and they’re ripping off the United States. And they’re ripping you off. I don’t want to do that. Either they pay up including for past deficiencies or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO.”
Nomination for CIA Director
Both Senator McCain and Russia also made an appearance at Congressman Mike Pompeo’s hearing for the Directorship of the CIA.Senator John McCain “Vladimir Putin and the Russians have, basically, compromised our national security. What do you think it takes to deter him?” Congressman Mike Pompeo “It is going to require an incredibly robust American response. A response that is a security related response that is that we have to get better at defending against these and then a response that holds actors accountable who commit these kind of actions against the United States of America. The form, the nature, the depth, the severity of those response will be decisions of policy makers that will be beyond me as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency but I do view my role there as central in providing you with a deep understanding of what’s taken place.”
He accused Russia of acting “aggressively” in Ukraine, threatening Europe and “doing nearly nothing” to bring down ISIL, appearing to stray away from Trump’s long-stated aim of seeking closer ties with the country.