Letter to the Editor: The President and National Security


Dear Editor:

Senators and Representatives of both parties often – and necessarily – refer to the U. S. Constitution, and the Constitution is the basis of Supreme Court decisions. 

It is the bedrock of our democratic republic. A key phrase in the Preamble to the Constitution is “provide for the common defense.” 

It is one of the stated purposes of the Constitution along with, e.g., “establish justice” and “promote the general welfare.”

As I read the letter by General James Mattis in which he announced his resignation as Secretary of Defense, I noticed that he used that exact phrase, “provide for the common defense,” twice. 

In the first instance, he asserted that the U.S. cannot effectively protect our interests “without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.” 

He concluded, “we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense.” 

In the second instance, Secretary Mattis asserted “that China and Russia . . . want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model . . . to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.” 

And then Mattis concluded, a second time, “That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.” 

I believe it is not an accident that Secretary Mattis quoted the Constitution – twice – in his resignation letter: “provide for the common defense.” 

He has seen, as you and I have, how President Trump has made it a hallmark of his administration to distance himself from and ridicule our traditional allies, England, France, Germany and even Canada, while he has praised and found common cause with the leaders of Russia, China, North Korea and even the Philippines.

I believe that Secretary Mattis, in his resignation letter, is announcing to the nation that the President has failed to uphold his oath of office—to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution by failing to “provide for the common defense.”

Please read Secretary Mattis’s letter for yourself. It is readily available online.

What do you think?

Your and my answers are valuable and need to be articulated, because we are citizens with a stake in the future of our nation. 


Richard L. Conville