WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Pentagon, retired General James Mattis, offered a detailed 56-page written response to issues ranging from ties with NATO to the security challenges posed by Russia, Iran and Syria.
He appears on Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee considering his nomination.
Here are some highlights:
”Russia has chosen to be a strategic competitor of the United States. That said, we engaged with Russia even during the darkest days of the Cold War, and I support the President-elect’s desire to engage with Russia now...
“At the same time, when we identify other areas where we cannot cooperate, we must confront Russia’s behaviour, and defend ourselves if Russia chooses to act contrary to our interests. Challenges posed by Russia include alarming messages from Moscow regarding the use of nuclear weapons; treaty violations; the use of hybrid warfare tactics to destabilize other countries; and involvement in hacking and information warfare.”
”I believe NATO is central to our defence. It facilitates European stability, and as a military alliance it helps sustain our values...
“The Alliance must harness renewed political will to confront and walk back aggressive Russian actions and other threats to the security of its members. It will face a critical challenge in maintaining solidarity on issues related to deterrence, defence, and the projection of stability in support of the North Atlantic community’s interests.”
”As with my view of our approach to Russia, I believe we must seek to engage and collaborate with China where possible, but also be prepared to confront inappropriate behaviour if China chooses to act contrary to our interests.
”China’s behaviour has led countries in the region to look for stronger U.S. leadership. If confirmed, I will examine ways to strengthen our allies and partners, while taking a careful look at our own military capabilities in the region. We must continue to defend our interests there—interests that include upholding international legal rights to freedom of navigation and overflight.
“China’s misappropriation of American secrets and intellectual property poses a significant risk to our national security.”
“The United States has long maintained its one-China policy, which is based on the three joint U.S.-China communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. This policy has been consistent across multiple administrations, both Republican and Democrat. If confirmed, I will provide to the President and the Congress my assessment of the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and the likely consequences of any changes to U.S. policy.”
“The security situation on the Korean peninsula remains volatile as a result of continued provocative statements and actions by the North Korean leadership. These include the expansion of its nuclear weapons program, continued development of increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile capabilities, and repeated threats to the U.S. and its allies in the region.”
“Iranian malign influence in the (Middle East) region is growing. Iran is the biggest destabilising force in the Middle East and its policies are contrary to our interests ... Our strategy should be to support responsive governments throughout the region so that terrorism and extremism cannot grow and to checkmate Iran’s goal for regional hegemony.”
“Our principal interest in Iraq is to ensure that it does not become a rump state of the regime in Tehran and party to Iran’s quest for regional hegemony—a quest that poses a threat to peace and stability. At the same time, we have a clear national interest in accelerating ISIS’s defeat. Iran, however, has proven to be the primary source of turmoil in the Middle East, and any outcome should enable the Iraqi people to maintain their sovereignty vis-à-vis Iran.”
“It is necessary to define the problems posed by the conflict, and to establish what level of priority we must assign to solving those problems in the midst of dealing with our other challenges.”
”The threat to our satellite capabilities is real and growing. Both China and Russia have developed and tested a variety of anti-satellite weapons that can destroy or disable satellites...
“Offensive space control capabilities should be considered to ensure survivable and resilient space operations necessary for the execution of war plans.”
Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney