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Mattisisms

12:45 PM, Jul 10, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The Scrapbook rounds up some of the best quotations from Marine General James Mattis, who was selected this week to head CENTCOM:

The Scrapbook applauds President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the selection of Marine General James Mattis to head Central Command. Victor Davis Hanson writes that “Mattis is a proven battlefield commander, a sophisticated student of history, and unshakable in his nerve and purpose.” Hanson adds, “We now have, with General Petraeus as ground commander, our two most gifted senior combat generals in charge of Afghanistan, who have worked well together and who were brilliant in Iraq in its darkest hours. I think all this is somewhat analogous to the final rise of Grant and Sherman in spring 1864 .  .  . or Ridgway in the last days of 1950, or the arrival of Abrams in Vietnam in latter 1968 .  .  . and increases our chances for success.”

Mattis is extraordinarily well-read and well-spoken, but he’s also willing to be direct and blunt on occasion. The Scrapbook has enjoyed some of the Mattisisms that have been circulating since the announcement of his pick, and thought you would too:

♦ Speaking to tribal leaders in Iraq: “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f— with me, I’ll kill you all.”

♦ Convincing an Iraqi that the United States wouldn’t cut and run: “I said I am never going to leave. I told him I had found a little piece of property down on the Euphrates River and I was going to have a retirement home built there. I did that because I wanted to disabuse him of any sense that he could wait me out.”

♦ Advice to soldiers and Marines: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Also: “If I were to sum up what I’ve learned in 35 years of service, it’s improvise, improvise, improvise.” And: “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” Similarly: “An untrained or uneducated Marine .  .  . deployed to the combat zone is a bigger threat to mission accomplishment .  .  . than the enemy.”

♦ Psychological counseling: “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event.”

And last but not least: “Marines don’t know how to spell the word -defeat.” 

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