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David Mareuil / AP

James Mattis is carrying a monstrous political weight on his shoulders. He's the man — alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — whom America's treaty allies are looking toward to steer Trump's foreign policy in more conventional and reassuring directions.

Over the past week alone, Trump unsettled the following allies: Australia, Germany, and Mexico. And he's withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaving China to become a more dominant trade player in Asia. And China-watchers are worried about Steve Bannon's hawkish views on the South China Sea.

In short: America's treaty allies are questioning whether Pax Americana is stable in the Trump Era.

Enter Mattis. He's well respected on both sides of the aisle, and seen as a moderating influence on Trump. Outgoing Obama Administration officials love him. He traveled first to South Korea and Japan to deliver a clarion message of American support.

I want there to be no misunderstanding during the transition in Washington that we stand firmly, 100 percent shoulder to shoulder with you and the Japanese people. — Mattis to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Why this matters: Trump thrives on instability. Applied to foreign affairs, however, Trump's bombast has unsettled every country that lives under the U.S. security umbrella. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are the best hopes these countries have to stabilize Trump. The earliest signs since their appointments — Mattis' Asia trip and Trump's unexpectedly conventional statement on Israeli settlements — may make America's allies cautiously hopeful.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
8 mins ago - Technology

Report: China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few year's lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.

Americans agree about more issues than they realize

Data: Populace Inc.; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Many Americans assume the rest of the country doesn't share their political and policy priorities — but they're often wrong, according to new polling by Populace, first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: The polling reveals that despite growing political polarization, Americans share similar long-term goals and priorities for the country.

Hollywood's big awards shows are in trouble

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Ratings for the Golden Globes on NBC likely fell to a record low Sunday, according to preliminary ratings from Nielsen.

The big picture: The pandemic has sped up the trend of ratings declines.

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