testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, and the General was his usual quotable self. One of his quotes however, seemed ( at least to me) to frame the terms of what has recently been reported as the chill between him and the White House. To wit:
""The collapse of the Assad regime, sir, would be biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years," Mattis said in response to a question from Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island."
Mattis has not been shy about his feelings about the threat from Iran, and many consider his forward leaning stance to have been the source of tension between him and the White House, specifically the National Security Adviser. But I'm not so sure this tells the complete story. Much of it, but not all if it.
My sense is that Mattis was REALLY leaning forward on taking out Assad--for the reasons he stated above--in the face of a White House that simply did not wish to go as far (in my view, wisely). So while disagreements on how to manage the Iran brief are likely to blame, it seems how to act on Syria could be a more proximate cause of the estrangement.