The US defence secretary has remained focused on targeting chemical weapons

It was Jim Mattis who saved the day. The US defence secretary, Pentagon chief and retired Marine general has a reputation for toughness. His former nickname was “Mad Dog”. When push came to shove over Syria last week, it was Mattis – not the state department or Congress – who stood up to a Donald Trump baying for blood.

Mattis told Trump, in effect, that the third world war was not going to start on his watch.

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Read More Trump may bluster about Syria but James Mattis is calling the shots

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