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Trump names James Mattis as secretary of defense Updated: 2016-12-02 18:10:16 KST


President-elect Donald Trump named retired Marine General James Mattis to be his secretary of defense, during a rally on Thursday in Cincinnati, Ohio.
According to media reports, including the Washington Post, a formal announcement will be made next Monday.
The 66-year old Mattis, whose nicknames include "Mad-dog" and "Warrior-monk," led the U.S. Central Command -- which oversees military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia -- from 2010 to 2013, before being replaced by the Obama administration for being too aggressive and "hawkish."
James Kim, director of Korea's Asan Institute for Policy Studies, says the Mattis appointment should be seen in context with Trump's recent announcements and promises.

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"He's emphasized three very important themes in his 100-day plan. He's talked about 'making America great again,' and secondly he's also talked about bargaining with both adversaries and allies from 'positions of strength' and, finally, he's also stated his intent to increase the United States' defense spending."

This means the Trump administration is willing to actively employ military force to improve its economic and diplomatic positions in relation to both allies and adversaries, including North Korea.

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"You take all of these three together, it seems to suggest it's not an isolationist foreign policy, but a policy that emphasizes U.S. national interest and using military strength as a key component or tool for furthering that interest."

While Mattis is known as a tough negotiator, Kim says he should still be seen as a positive component to current South Korea-U.S. relations.

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"It's important to not stretch and over-interpret this appointment, because policies are not made by a single individual cabinet. Having said that, I think it's important to understand that James Mattis has come out publicly in support of keeping, if not strengthening, existing alliances that the U.S. has around the world. That's positive news for South Korea."

Still, Mattis faces an important obstacle: because he only retired in 2013, Congress will have to waive a requirement that states that a defense secretary must be a civilian for at least seven years before leading the Pentagon.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News.
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