The Atlantic

The Quiet Integrity of James Mattis

The secretary of defense did well to protect the military from politicization, against overwhelming force.
Source: Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Since Jim Mattis grounds himself in the classics, it seems fitting to mark his resignation with a passage from Epictetus: “Authentic freedom places demands on us.” The quiet integrity with which he has done his job modeled a stoicism rare in our febrile political climate and sadly lacking elsewhere in the Trump administration. Mattis’s resignation letter may have been his most important act as the United States’ 26th secretary of defense.

His resignation letter did two important things in these fraught times, as the president of the

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic10 min readScience
What Made Me Reconsider the Anthropocene
Whether our civilization is transient or not, its effects on the living world will last forever.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
The Conspiracy of Silence Is Cracking
Trump’s stonewalling relies on the willingness of others to stay quiet, and Marie Yovanovitch and Gordon Sondland are opting out.
The Atlantic4 min readPolitics
Why Doesn’t Steve Bannon Matter in Europe?
The former Trump strategist has spent the past year trying to bolster far-right parties on the Continent—with little to show for it.