- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2015

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said the U.S. is suffering “strategic atrophy” that will threaten the long-term security of the nation.

The retired general and former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander made the remarks while speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“The perception [among allies] is we’re pulling back,” Gen. Mattis said, the U.S. Naval Institute reported Thursday.

The conversation with Gen. Mattis covered a variety of topics, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire “to break NATO apart,” to China, which “is doing a pretty good job of finding friction points between our allies,” USNI reported.

Gen. Mattis praised the United Arab Emirates and Jordan for aiding the U.S. coalition in its fight against the Islamic State group. He added that he has “no doubt” that any foreign policy missteps can be rectified with the right leadership.

Mr. Obama defended his administration’s policy as anything but “strategic atrophy” in January during his State of the Union address.

SEE ALSO: Russia aggression prompts Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania to seek NATO force

“We’re demonstrating the power of American strength and diplomacy. We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small — by opposing Russian aggression, and supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies,” Mr. Obama said Jan. 20.

The president also told the nation “We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now. And around the globe, it is making a difference.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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