I think I have mentioned this before, but my political acumen is not terribly sophisticated. The last guy I got really excited about putting in the White House died of cancer, so if we’re ever at the track together don’t bet on my horse.
Take my poor judgment in this area when you consider my assessment of these recent opinions on what is going on with the constellation of generals coming out and hating on the SECDEF. As much as I would like to think Holbrooke and Blankley are on the right track, I really think we can attribute this to standard military operating procedure as Holbrooke points out:
Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, who was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the planning period for the war in Iraq, made this clear in an extraordinary, at times emotional, article in Time magazine this past week when he said he was writing “with the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership.”
Do not misunderstand me: I’ve served will a lot of terribly smart and incredibly capable officers. Men and women who – were things right in the world – would be pinning on their own star or two by now. None of them however, would ever think of firing off a verbal salvo that could have put them in conflict with what ‘the old man’ (at whatever level it was) wanted or was perceived to want. In at least one case such behavior, as honorable as it may have been, would have resulted in physical abuse.
When your only hope of getting ahead in your chosen profession is to keep your figure fit, your uniform pressed and your bloody mouth shut, you run, you become proficient with an iron, and you keep quiet. You would like to think that such behavior changed once it looked like you were untouchable (flag rank) but recent history indicates that even generals and admirals are not immune from a smack-down when they get out of line.
Consider this interesting phenomenon: When you are a Private all you want to be is a Sergeant. When you are a Lieutenant you want desperately to make Captain. Once you reach these goals there is just one more milestone you want to reach. It gets to the point where you’ll do anything to not be one of those 20-year SSGs or twice-passed-over Majors. “God, if I can just make SFC or LTC I’ll never ask for anything again!” Do really think that people who do this for 20 years will suddenly (snap!) like that become some open and forthcoming teller of truth to power? Why, when they can keep doing what they’re doing, collect their pensions, write their books, and give speeches that bring in what used to be a months pay in an hour.
I told you they were smart.