Retired Marine Corps General James Mattis is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense, and he is one of the most quotable figures in modern public life.
He rarely gives a speech without saying something that should be emblazoned on coffee mugs, or in some cases stenciled on the side of bombs. Here are some of his greatest hits:
- “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” – from a speech Mattis delivered to Marines arriving in Iraq in 2003. This is widely acclaimed as the ultimate Mattisism, winning extra cool points for being compatible with Patrick Swayze’s famous advice to new bouncers in Road House.
- “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” – probably the other most widely-repeated Mattisism, it has been quoted in contexts ranging from the Iraqi troop withdrawal to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.