"We must reject any thinking of our cities as a 'battlespace' that our uniformed military is called upon to 'dominate,' " Mattis said. "At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part."
"We do not need to militarize our response to protests," he said. "We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law."
Mattis ended his statement — an exceptional rebuke of a commander-in-chief by one of his former top officials — by looking beyond the Oval Office.
"We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society," he said. "This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children."
"We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country," he continued. "We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s 'better angels,' and listen to them, as we work to unite."
Mattis concluded: "Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad."
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