Defense secretary nominee Mattis warns world order under historic threat

Defense secretary nominee Gen. James Mattis issued a grave warning Thursday at his Senate confirmation hearing, saying the established world order is under its “biggest attack” since World War II as he called for boosting military readiness and America’s alliances.

Under questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., about Russia and other threats, Mattis said the U.S. should “recognize the reality” of dealing with Vladimir Putin’s government and that he’s trying to “break” the North Atlantic alliance.

Citing Russia’s aggressions and other concerns, he said: “I think [the world order is] under the biggest attack since World War II … from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.”

To address this, Mattis testified, “deterrence is critical.”  

His assessment came as he called for strengthening “military readiness” while also pursuing “business reforms” at the Pentagon. He said U.S. forces must be the “best led, best equipped and most lethal in the world.”

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