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Mattis: Russia, Terrorism, China Are Biggest Threats


Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis faced the Senate for his secretary of defense confirmation hearing on Jan. 12. Mattis outlined his views on current foreign policy, with specific aim at Russia and Iran.

"I've watched three presidents commit themselves to new relationships with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin," Mattis said in response to a question from Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, notes CNN. "All three have been an abysmal failure ... I think right now the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with [in] Mr. Putin. We recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance, and that we take the steps, the integrated steps, diplomatic, economic, military and the alliance steps, working with our allies to defend ourselves where we must."

Speaking on the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis stated, "[it] is an imperfect arms-control agreement. It isn't a friendship treaty," according to U.S. News & World Report. Mattis then added that "when America gives her word, we have to live up to it."

Following a question by McCain about the strength of the world order established following World War II, Mattis added, "I think it's under the biggest attack since World War II, sir, and that's from Russia, from terrorist groups, and with what China is doing in the South China Sea," reports NBC.

McCain then asked how the U.S. should meet these threats. "I think deterrence is critical," Mattis responded.

"Do you think we have a strong enough military, today, to achieve that goal?" McCain asked.

"No, sir," responded Mattis.

Beyond matters of foreign policy, Mattis was also asked by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, about women and gays in the military.

"Frankly, senator, I've never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with ... The standards are the standards and when people meet the standards, that's the end of discussion on that," Mattis said. "The reason we're able to maintain an all-volunteer force with very, very high recruiting standards is because we go to males and females ... Where they can best serve, that's where they go."

Sources: NBC News, CNN, U.S. News & World Report / Photo credit: USGLC/Flickr

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