Sunday, December 25, 2005

But he'll remember, with advantages ...

If the defining youthful experience of the 1960s were the civil-rights and antiwar movements, what is today's? Robert Kaplan writing in the LA Times thinks he knows.

If you want to meet the future political leaders of the United States, go to Iraq. I am not referring to the generals, or even the colonels. I mean the junior officers and enlistees in their 20s and 30s. In the decades ahead, they will represent something uncommon in U.S. military history: war veterans with practical experience in democratic governance, learned under the most challenging of conditions. For several weeks, I observed these young officers working behind the scenes to organize the election in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. ... Throughout Iraq, young Army and Marine captains have become veritable mayors of micro-regions, meeting with local sheiks, setting up waste-removal programs to employ young men, dealing with complaints about cuts in electricity and so on. They have learned to arbitrate tribal politics, to speak articulately and to sit through endless speeches without losing patience.

I watched Lt. John Turner of Indianapolis get up on his knees from a carpet while sipping tea with a former neighborhood mukhtar and plead softly: "Sir, I am willing to die for a country that is not my own. So will you resume your position as mukhtar? Brave men must stand forward. Iraq's wealth is not oil but its civilization. Trust me by the projects I bring, not by my words." Turner, a D student in high school, got straightened out as an enlisted man in the Coast Guard before earning a degree from Purdue and becoming an Army officer. He is one of what Col. Michael Shields, commander of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Mosul, calls his "young soldier-statesmen."


The third thread of 1960s youth experience was service in Vietnam; but it had to go underground. Hollywood took a long time to make a movie about the Vietnam experience and then only from the perspective of outsiders looking in, as in the Deer Hunter. Cultural historians would have called it the losing thread -- or the odd threat at least -- in this sense: whereas in veterans of World War 2 were universally asked 'Daddy, what did you do during the war?',  more people were willing to talk about watching Grace Slick at Yasgur's Farm than in recalling the Ia Drang Valley. William Shakespeare described what it was to miss truly defining moment of a generation.

And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

That sentiment, for some reason, did not apply to Vietnam. But Robert Kaplan has reason to think that the times, they are a-changin'.


Blogger Meme chose said...

We now fight with such a tiny proportion of our available manpower, most people of their own generation will never personally know any of these men and women.

Only blogging (or a seriously reformed media) is ever really likely to connect their experience to the rest of our society.

12/25/2005 02:35:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Success is everybody's, but failure you experience alone.

At Christmas, let's share the success - mindful of the sacrifice of some, and the debt we owe them.


12/25/2005 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Whether or not GIs that did extraordinary things in Iraq and Afghanistan end up as future leaders depends on circumstances.

1. Being a WWII Vet was a great thing to have on your resume in the post-WWII era. Because they won. And had a reputation that people looked up to. Over half the people in Congress in the 60s and 70s were WWII Vets. Every President from Eisenhower to Ford served in WWII, then Jimmah who served in sewer pipes, then two more WWII Vets, then Clinton. A span went from FDR to Bush I were Vets.

Vietnam Vets did amazing things too, they were also nation builders and showed a wide range of skills. But Vietnam-era Vets only found their service respected and valuable in certain parts of the country. And they lost. And they had the false stigma that Kerry and others put on them as unbalanced druggies who suffered from PTSD, Agent Orange, and Flashbacks that caused them to go on violent rampages.

What slot the Islamoid Wars veterans will take leading America looks better at this time based on reputation. Time will tell if people perceive they have won, though. Vietnam Vets won every battle they went into back when they were in uniform, but lost politically and were ween as losers by the public in many sections of America.

2. How the Vets of the Islamoid conflict do in politics is conditioned on how well their skills allow them to enjoy civilian career success. The WWII Vets enjoyed access to a full college education, and a huge number of new careers opening up and a chance to have security for their families and free time to start in local politics, maybe move on. And they came from all strata of society so they frequently found the doors to elite circles opening for them on their war records that American elites also had similar backgrounds in. But now the moneyed and power elites avoid military service, tend not to value it as much in others because it has become a lower class thing -- so the "de facto" Army Captain mayor of Abu Abdullasville may find the best he can do is manager trainee at Walmart if his spanish-speaking skills are good..And an oft-decorated Bradley gunner and organizer of restarting 3 Iraqi schools may find a town Sanitation truck driving job that offers medical benefits for his young family as far as he will get ahead in civilian life.

3. Military Vets interested in politics or corporate leadership do have significant competition that has focused since their teens on gaining power, access, influence, money, and networking with other annointed future leaders. This "junior elite" has few friends or acquaintences from the military. They - Republican and Democrat - are politically active as youngsters, try to get elite college and law school credentials, make the summer intern pilgrimmage to DC or State Houses or politically connected law or lobbyist firms to understand how the game is played, who the players are, and get their networks and "shots" lined up. many never leave DC after graduation but become "staffers" and wonks working up the rungs of power and influence, go out the revolving door to make some serious money in private biz or litigation, then show back up in their states to run for high office. Or hope their Party is in power so they can get the juicy gov't appointments that can be leveraged into more power and wealth in their careers later.

While few have any "wasted valuable prep time" in the military, they all "love and support America's heroes" - until they see Vets running for offices or private enterprise slots that by rights belong to graduates of elite law schools, wealthy businessmen, the sons and daughters of the powerful that are owed a chance to perpetuate nepotic dynasties.

So Vets looking to move some of their non-Vet competition out of prized slots in private enterprise, plum appointments in the Byzantine Satrapies of Gov't, or elected officeholder nominations have to hope conditions change from present day. Right now, conditions in America favor the competition. The elite law school graduates, lifelong political "activists", connected children of the money and power elites, wealthy businesspeople, and well-known celebrities wishing to stroke their egos in a different way.

Local politics with less money, power, and influence at stake is more open to Vets.


12/25/2005 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Kaplan's piece is one of the better one's I can remember reading in quite a while.
Here's another nice one from the LA Times:
From Heckles to Halos .
This is NOT a replay of Vietnam for returning Vets.
Thank God

12/25/2005 04:47:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hanoi Jane

12/25/2005 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

It has been interesting for me to see how the perception of the Vietnam Veteran has evolved over time. In the 70's the standard villian in TV shows was the embittered Vietnam Vet. By the mid-80's the Vietnam Vet had become the standard hero. Revulsion gave way to pity and then finally pity, respect and admiration. The driver in this changing attitudes seemed to be the perception of the U.S. relative to the rest of the world and the threat that seemed to be out there. It was like the Kipling "Tommy" poem.
The other side of the coin is the news media.
Will the reporters who were embedded with the military in Iraq take over the MSM? Certainly they have a unequaled spot on their resume, and for the most part they did incredible jobs, and in some cases, still are.
And their "industry" is in sad, sad, shape. As Bernie Goldberg said following the release of the truth on the NYT "stolen explosives" just before the last election "If CBS News had run with this they would have to turn the whole department into a parking garage."
I see no evidence that the embeds are taking over. No one appears to be pleading with Michael Yon or Bill Roggio to please come pull CBS or the BBC out of their death spirals. Whether this holds or not over the long term is yet to be seen, but it does not look good.

12/25/2005 05:09:00 AM  
Blogger Motor 1560 said...

Great essay. It occurred to me recently that a certain word has fallen out of usage. That word is "calling".

It signified something solemn and beyond questioning. In today's world it seems that the military is the only organization that recognizes this need for membership in something larger than oneself. Something that is worth self sacrifice; another word nearly gone.

It remains to be seen if this will translate into moral authority in the future. I suspect that it will only if the efforts are allowed to be seen as successful.

12/25/2005 05:21:00 AM  
Blogger Karensky said...

A Good Morning and a very Merry Christmas to you Wretchard!
Excellent article from Kaplan.
When you look at political profiles very, very few non-New England/Atlantic Coast politicos start at the top. It is the local elections; Commissioner, Councilman, Police Chief et al where the new blood is found. What Wretchard and Kaplan are pointing out Cederford is that these young men are doing the tough slogging and persuading that we like to think our politics is all about. When you look at Washington DC this is no longer the case.
In DC it is all about staff and horsetrading. What I find with the Dems and Reps is that they are so entrenched in the imperial politics (ideology is of no matter just bring home the bacon) that ideas no longer matter on the hill. Well, these vets are in the act of persuading and trading. With the tribal/Arabic traditions they are receiving one hell of a training in politics.
Now, when they come home they, unlike me, can have the stamina to listen to claptrap and still argue, persuade, cajole or just plain buy off the silliness that the left puts up while not addressing their own muddled ideas. It is just how the feel that is important. However, in this day of the post 9/11 Republican more and more Americans are coming to the realization that thoughts, ideas, and yes, ideology do matter. they not only matter in DC but, with the threat of terror and islamic fanatacism they matter right here at home. Lackawana was not Philadelphia.

Watch for this, local vets in their 20's will come home and they will pay attention. Maybe they will be riding the garbage truck, maybe they will run the local 7-11 but they will get perturbed with the inannities of local government. When the City Council, in a small 5,000 population come out with their local resolution regarding the WOT that negatively states their non-support of the POTUS you will see these Vets talking to the local and running and winning.
My own small town here in Democratic Palm Beach Council just had a Commission Meeting interrupted by the Truth Project at the blessing of our silly Mayor. This 20 something Philosophy Major/Kindergarten teacher felt it was a good thing for the radicals to go into the local schools with their message of hate for all things military and instruction on how to "resist" the local military recruiters. Oops, he failed to recognize that his only ally on the Commission was a Combat Vet, Marine who served in Vietnam. Suffice it to say that the missing Commissioner, away on Christmas Holiday is a WWII vet. Methinks you Kinder Mayor will find less and less of an "understanding" from the more level headed citizenry.

12/25/2005 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Kaplan's piece is one of the better MSM articles I can remember reading in quite a while."

12/25/2005 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Steyn had a great comment, as usual, about the Senate "House of Lords" and their incredibly bloated staffs.
Hopefully it's at radioblogger.

Merry Christmas to All!

12/25/2005 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Merry Christmas, everyone!

W wrote: And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

That sentiment, for some reason, did not apply to Vietnam.

I have to disagree, no matter that the media tries to portray all of society as disrespectful of Vietnam vets, I can tell you that those of us who saw our guys returning to our neighborhoods had the utmost respect for them. Over the intervening decades, most of us have worked for and with Nam vets, and the respect has only grown. For many of us, it was always there.

On the other hand, it wasn't The Big One. My father told me that upon returning from combat in Korea, losing his best friend the day they signed the armistice, suffering the tragedies of war, the WWII vets in the bars would say to him: "That was nothin' kid."

Merry Christmas to all.

12/25/2005 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Karensky said...

Doug, I read Styne's piece linked from NROnline. His devastating point, in my reading, was that these little businesses, 100+ senate staffers, was that they ran around in circles trying to be all things to all peoples. When I think about it their politics are simply shallow and blatently self serving. A few decades ago Senators sat on relatively few Committees from which they could hold forth on recommending tax policy changes to affect their percieved understanding of relatively fewer issues while relying upon other s
Senators to think through other tough policy issues whereby they would support that or the other point of view.
What seems to be coming out of the papers of late is that the Junior Senator from West Verginia, Rockefeller has a leaker in his office. Time will tell, and not the media, whether the Senator's leaker will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Following the thread of Kaplan and Wretchard as the vets arrive in Congress things like the leaking of the eavesdropping of Jihadi linked communications into and out of the country will be view for what it is; traitorious activity. Along with anyone ideologically leaking information that their boss will take a hit for as simple betrayal of the country. Hell, who knows, maybe the country will get a spine and try Ramsey Clarke, in abstentia, and strip him of his citizenship.

12/25/2005 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The men and women will return from the Mohammedan Wars and behave just as others returning vets have behaved.
Senator Hagel, Senator McCain, Rep Murtha are all prime examples of men whose Military Service helped shape their attitudes.
Don't forget JFKerry and my personal favorite Senator McGovern.

Starship troopers each and every one.

12/25/2005 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Wretchard, and commenters. Wretchard, you've fought the good fight very, very effectively, this past year, and you will have posterity's kindest regards for it, forever.

12/25/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

I don't do bandwagons, don't perk, and I can't remember the last time I was agreeable.

But all of the above. A voice of sanity, insight, and the sobriety of emotions, not discarded, but held in balance. And much more. Considerable security in knowing that stable people are thinking things through.

12/25/2005 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Thanatos said...

When John Kerry conspired with the person of Mdm Binh of the Viet Cong in Paris, in 1972, while still in the uniform of an officer in the United States Navy? He abdicated any right or privilege to be considered as one of the "veterans" of that conflict. My Marines were dying in Quang Tri, in the same moment that Kerry was betraying them, and committing treason to this nation.

12/25/2005 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger stavr0s said...

Merry Christmas, Wretchard! And thanks much.

12/25/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

25,000,000 Veterans. Approx. 15,000,000 vote in any given presidential election. Gore carried 51%. Kerry carried 40%. If Kerry had carried 50% in Ohio, he would be President, today.

The Democrat's conduct during the Iraq War will give the Republican Candidate a leg up in many coming Presidential elections.

By the way, Kerry carried considerably less than 40% of Vietnam Vets. I stood an hour and a half in the rain to vote against him. I figured I owed that much to a few buddies from Chu Lai.

12/25/2005 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger academic_hawk said...

Wretchard...Merry Christmas. As an academic reading your blog over the past year has been one of my great pleasures. You are indeed fighting the good fight.

My Dad served in WWII (actually in Iraq in the Persian Gulf Command). He was very proud of his service and so were all of us in his family. I hope that the new vets do wonderful things for our country. We certainly need them.

12/25/2005 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Kagan is certainly right, not the least because there is no opposing 'narrative.' Who do you choose between the avengers of 9-11 in Mesopotamia and beyond or the peaceniks in their twilight war against Bushitler-Cheney-Halliburton? Where are the thousand-strong peace rallies? Where is the lovely, romantic free-luv meme, in this day of AIDS?

It may be that Iraq is defining moment by default...there exists no other option, no rite of initiation besides it.

12/25/2005 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Note the Hispanic names when you watch our troops on TV. I think our first Hispanic SecState and maybe President is out there now, serving.

12/25/2005 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

And what the world sees are the talking heads here at home, crying "woe, alas, alack!" Those outsided of America take their cue from Kerry, Murtha, Pelosi and Hillary, and think that since no one is taking any action about the treasonous leaks to the press, then there must be some scandal behind it, some basic truth that America's freedom of speech is allowing to be seen.

The French and the Germans and the Russians and the Saudi's do *not* see the blogs that we read for our daily Real News, and therefore think only what they are fed by American MSM headlines: that Bush's ratings are falling, that the American Congress is on the edge of pulling out of Iraq, and that any moment now America will realize our huge mistake, apologize, and become more multilateral in the UN.

Has the thought occurred to anyone else: Aren't the Sunni's reacting EXACTLY like the Democrats reacted after the results of the November Presidential election: the outrage, the disbelief in the stupidity of the winning opponent, and the claims of ballot-tampering?

The majority of us Americans thought after that election where it became obvious that a hefty majority of us supported Mr. Bush and his war, that the lefty tree-huggers would pipe down. But nooooooooo ... that hasn't happened, and not only has the rhetoric escalated, but now we're seeing the CIA *and* the NY Times conspiring to print secrets that will aid and abet our enemy(s).

So given this example from the leading democracy in the world, why wouldn't the Sunni's just automatically assume that hysterical ankle-biting, and snarky lie-telling is the norm after you've lost an election. I'm just waiting for the first feeling-disenfranchised Sunni to use the "impeach" word.

12/25/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Motor 1560: I think that you have hit the nail on the head with you comment on “calling.”. My own observation is that today only the members of U.S. Military seem to posses they appreciation for things larger than their individual desires. Among civilian agencies and private industry I see no such attitude. In those organizations, even when there is an earnest desire to do a job well, there does not seem to be any interest in their role as relates to larger goals.
The great causes of the past are all mostly dead and live on like the adversaries in some horror movie. Civil Rights has descended into a mixture of avarice, absurdity, and bureaucracy. Environmentalism has become equated with insanity.
Politicians are more political than ever. Public action groups are too often shills for others.

The military has not been immune to this. During the downsizing of the 90’s everyone in the military could not help but to focus on their own careers. The results were not pretty. Generals in the Pentagon scrambled madly to protect their favorite career fields with little or no thought as to the ultimate impact on future capabilities. It is clear that the events of 9/11/01 caused the U.S. military to focus one again on its real mission, and the crucible of combat has no doubt honed this basic attitude to an even sharper edge.

Perhaps the real value that those in today’s military can bring to other fields is that willingness to commit one’s self to a larger purpose. But first they will have to decide what those large purposes are and reinvigorate them; competence is important but commitment is essential.

12/25/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

RE: competence and commitment to a higher calling.

Balance of course being the glue that holds the whole mess together. I note that higher callings in the private sector lead to a multitude of Enrons where commitment seques into fatuous cheerleading at the drop of the ball. And let's be realistic about expecting labor to commit to a management structure that knowingly (??) over-promised pension obligations for 20 years. Higher callings in the private sector are dicey at best. Contracts and self-interest are the only way to go.

Government is different. For many years after FDR Washington seemed to be run fairly competently by a group of anonymous insiders who performed the heavy lifting of wheeling and dealing - the equivalent of the process described in the Kaplan article. At some point, corruption subsumed the effectiveness of this system with obvious consequences for those fueled by commitment to a higher calling. My response to the Kaplan article was that the experience would breed a new generation of political leaders who would reintroduce the meaning of democracy to our own country.

12/25/2005 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Das said...

Merry Christmas - Wretchard, everyone. About a year ago I asked a Vietnam vet about this very thing. I thought today's generation of vets would define the upcoming generation, and that upon their return new perspectives would open up. He looked at me and was thoughtful for a minute. Then he said, "I don't think so." He talked about taking college and university classes after Vietnam and taking heavy pro-commi flak all the way. He said the leftist cast in academia is even more solid today. He said you can always hope but without influence in media and academia how can we expect new perspectives and ideas to circulate.

Enter the blogosphere - we've got work to do...

12/25/2005 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

From "The Republic":

[The Guardian] distinguishes the face of a friend and of an enemy only by the criterion of knowing and not knowing...

Let us note among the guardians those who in their whole life show the greatest eagerness to do what is for the good of their country, and the greatest repugnance to do what is against her interests...

And there should also be toils and pains and conflicts prescribed for them, in which they will be made to give further proof of the same qualities...

Citizens, we shall say to them in our tale, you are brothers, yet God has framed you differently. Some of you have the power of command, and in the composition of these he has mingled gold, wherefore also they have the greatest honour.

Merry Christmas, and may God continue to bless this Republic with virtue, and excellence.

12/25/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Very few people were actually Freedom Riders, present at the March on Washington or at Woodstock. But many more were there in aspiration. And the greatest achievement of writers in the 1960s was to shape the aspirations of a generation.

In Mark Steyn's recent story in the London Spectator, O Come All Ye Faithless he observed that while it was increasingly difficult to sing "Away in a Manger" at a school play, it was much easier to schedule "John Lennon’s 'Imagine', that paean to nothingness whose lyric — 'Above us only sky' — is the official slogan of John Lennon International Airport in Liverpool." And so are those days remembered. Yet the price of these 1960s 'triumphs' was subtle and profound. They diminished our dreams; they replaced the eternal questions with a slogan from a drug-store greeting card.

I think the 21st century will be remembered as the day we put down the roach, put away the glass, wiped off the patchouli oil: when men rediscovered the world; rediscovered faith; rediscovered doubt. Not in abstraction, but as Kaplan notes, in the dusty souks, family tables and schoolrooms of a far-away place.

12/25/2005 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Perhaps the real value that those in today’s military can bring to other fields is that willingness to commit one’s self to a larger purpose.
But first they will have to decide what those large purposes are and reinvigorate them; competence is important but commitment is essential.
Our son has been working with Air Force Personnel for only 4 months, and the difference in attitude and respect is palpable.
Respect for serving the cause of freedom and country was once more universal, now, thanks to the NEA and pop culture it is rare.

Those in service live in a different sphere and have better things to do for their country and themselves.

The Anti-War Vietnam vets were an anomaly in number and degree of distortion of perspective in my experience and imo.

They were influenced by the surrounding culture, and they sure as hell have influenced and enabled the left's downward spiral.

Hope Cutler chimes in on the College Scene.
My impression is that far more students see the profs as the moonbats they are.
In my day there were still too many respectable and responsible academics for such and attitude to be widespread.

12/25/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger academic_hawk said...

As I mentioned, I'm a professor at a very large public university and, while I was brought up to be very left-leaning, became quite conservative after 9/11. I mostly keep my mouth shut because I am in the administrative leadership of my place and I don't think it's appropriate or useful to be an academic leader *and* a politician. But...there are many more like me. We're just not as obvious as the many Ward Churchill types.

So don't give up hope on the academy. Particularly the kids.

12/25/2005 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

What a hopeful blog (and source) this is! Just the thing to lift the spirits of us old fogies on this wonderful Christmas day!

God bless and protect our soldier-statemen, and you, too, W.

12/25/2005 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Rwe - whoa! great post, I think you have hit the nail on the head, commitment to a larger goal, things even beyond this earthly vail.

Doug - One of the reasons Iraq is NOT Vietnam is we are not sending draftees with bad attitudes into deadly situations. That really happened (in Vietnam, WWII, Gallipoli and all conscripted wars probably), we have to admit that. We are NOT putting conscripts into combat now, we are asking professionals to serve, and we are spending billions serving them with air and intelligence assets. (talk of missing body armor noted.)

We may still be, as Wretchard puts it, fighting with both hands and all but one little pinky tied behind our backs (roughly translated), but unlike in Vietnam and Korea, we are doing our damnedest to win in Iraq.

So far, at least until 1/20/09.

12/25/2005 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Rizalist said...

Well, I must speak up for William Howard Taft, US President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court -- the only one to hold both positions. He was before becoming all of those, the first civilian govenor of America's first and only ever colony, the democracy he fought so hard to establish in the Philippine Archipelago, but which took a bad turn, I think, in the 1912 elections, which 2008 may yet come to resemble. Hope not! He too, headed several generations of Americans with direct and life-changing experience on the other side of the world: soldiers, teachers, architects of a nation still on the long road to Freedom, over a hundred years later!

12/25/2005 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Previous commenter noted the number of Hispanic names in the modern military. Good observation. Not too many years ago, European intelligentsia were chuckling at the demise of the American military. The departure of the East Coast academic elite was replaced by recruitment within the ethnic ghetto. Transformation of another kind. As the world turns.

This country is so far ahead of the rest of the planet that my little pea brain just spins. We now have a military - with many Hispanic surnames seemingly symptomatic of recruiting deficiencies - bringing democracy to Iraq one Marine (Army) at a time.

Those who presume to identify with the sacrifices of the military might consider supporting alternative avenues of contribution, such as tax increases and/or a committed program of energy independence, despite the inevitable market contractions. That is why it is called sacrifice.

12/25/2005 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'll contribute with SPENDING decreases, thanks Bob.
...Now if we can just get 'Rat to give up his free drugs.

12/25/2005 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Big difference between returning conscripts to combat from WWII and 'Nam, as you know, was that the WWII Vets were not spat upon.

The strong survived, but a significant number caved and joined the defeatocrat caucus.
-The whole atmosphere was different.
Even now the "inevitable dehumanization of combat" is paid undue respect in conservative circles sometimes.
I grew up around far too many mentally healty WWII Vets to buy it.
...a lot depends on the Society they come back to.

12/25/2005 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Starve the Beast.

Separating economic arguments from geopolitical arguments is neither productive nor possible - and seldom on-topic. But the challenge still stands. The military is sacrificing. How best to share the sacrifice?

And don't 'Thanks Bob' me cupcake.

Up the Ritalin dosage.

12/25/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said..., a grass roots organization?

The Sweetness and Light catches Ron Fournier of the Asscociated Press calling, the Soros-funded outfit, a "grass roots" political group. Right. I remember when the AP took pride in its even-handedness
- American Thinker

12/25/2005 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

More taxes mean more free Ritalin, not "more sacrifice," but none for me, thanks, Bob!

12/25/2005 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sacrifice: Give Up Socialism.

12/25/2005 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Charting the Coming Holocaust?

12/25/2005 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

One thing I have wondered about for years is the supposed sad condition of Vietnam vets. I have served with and under a number of military men who were in Vietnam, and they all seemed like fine, well adjusted people who carried no special cargo of personal demons. But I recall seeing John Ritter host an event - early 90's I think - whose main focus was to bemoan the plight of the Vietnam Vet, and he said "While 50,000 died in Vietnam, at least that many have commited suicide after coming home."
Frankly, that sounds like pure B.S. to me, but suppose that it is true.
Consider what the vets of Vietnam went through versus WWII and Korea. Tours were but one year, not for the duration as was often the case in WWII. There were Medivac choppers, a huge SAR effort for downed aircrew, and jet transport to and from the combat area. There was no threat of being torpedoed en route and there were relatvely nearby safe areas, in Thailand, the Phillipines, and Guam. Medical help was far superior. Vietnam had its Khe San, A Shau, and Paul Doumer Bridge battles and many smaller vicious actions, but there were no Battan Death Marches, Wake Islands, Guadacanals, Normandy Invasions, Battles of the Bulge, Schweinfurt Raids, Iwo Jimas, or Chosin Reservoirs.
The POWs had it harder than most in WWII - but how many Ex-Pows have you heard about suiciding?
If there was a negative difference between WWII, Korea and Vietnam it was here at home, where the returning vets often were not treated as heros - or even as respectable human beings.
So if in fact Vietnam vets are the pitiful sad sacks that some people claim - and that is indeed an accepted sterotype, however true or not - the anti-war types at home must be responsible. That is the only conclusion.

12/25/2005 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Jack Murtha - From Abscam To Amscray
Our troops have become the enemy.” - Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania…

Serving in the military, even being wounded in combat, doesn’t afford you a lifetime pass. (Cf. John Kerry.)
I thank and honor Mr. Murtha for his past military service. Just as he should thank and honor our current troops, rather than stab them in the back by giving our enemy the hope we will surrender even after we have won.

By the way, ABSCAM is a scandal you hardly ever see trotted out nowadays. If you do see some remembrance of it, it is very rare to see any description of the party affiliation of those involved.
Of course we know why. The perps (one Senator, six Representatives.) were all but one Democrats. Oddly enough, the lone Republican, Richard Kelly, is the one we always hear about — as sticking $25,000 down his pants.
Some sites, like the laughable "History Channel" (owned by Disney) even go so far as to claim that Senator Williams was a Republican. That is a lie. He was a Democrat. In fact, he was the first Democrat from New Jersey to be re-elected for four terms.
Abscam (sometimes ABSCAM) was a US political scandal in 1980. An FBI sting operation led to the arrest of members of Congress for accepting bribes.

The FBI set up "Abdul Enterprises, Ltd." in 1978 and FBI employees posed as Middle Eastern businessmen in videotaped talks with government officials, where they offered money in return for political favors to a non-existent sheik. Much of the operation was directed by Melvin Weinberg, a convicted con artist who was hired by the FBI for that purpose. It was the first major operation by the FBI to trap corrupt public officials; up until 1970 only ten members of Congress had ever been convicted of accepting bribes.

Indeed, note how how the chart makes it look like one of the culprits is now Rove’s attorney. In actuality, Luskin was in charge of the Department Of Justice’s sting.
Meanwhile they left off Frank Thompson (D), who actually served jail time.

Republican lawmakers say that ties between Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and his brother’s lobbying firm, KSA Consulting, may warrant investigation by the House ethics committee.

According to a June 13 article in The Los Angeles Times, the fiscal 2005 defense appropriations bill included more than $20 million in funding for at least 10 companies for whom KSA lobbied. Carmen Scialabba, a longtime Murtha aide, works at KSA as well.

KSA directly lobbied Murtha’s office on behalf of seven companies, and a Murtha aide told a defense contractor that it should retain KSA to represent it
, according to the LA Times.

12/25/2005 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

...but guess which one of two Vietnam War Heros will go to prison?

12/25/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Hint: It won't be the one that called our troops the enemy.

12/25/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Excellent idea, Bob Smith.
How can we best share the sacrifice of the military in Iraq? I suggest a decimation of the government bureaucracy.

For starters.

12/25/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cut Senate Staff Budget by 80%!

12/25/2005 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Comment at Sweetness & Light:
"Jack Murtha stated today that the military was “broken” and “worn out”. I believe he should take a peek in the mirror, and see just how appropriate that statement is regarding himself.
Semper Fi!

12/25/2005 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Merry Christmas, Dammit!

12/25/2005 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Challenge of the IEDs:

Like the tank in Third Generation war, the IED is proving to be not merely a tactical but an operational weapon in the Fourth Generation. In Iraq, British troops are reacting by employing IEDs of their own to try to push local factions into fighting each other.

But the broader challenge Fourth Generation war poses to state militaries at the operational level will remain. As I said, I don't know what the answer is.

William Lind, Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation

12/25/2005 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/25/2005 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

Sam, except the utility of IEDs is vastly overstated, not least to the purported object of the tactic: By relying mostly on improvised explosive devices, or IEDs to attack us, they have created a situation where our troops have no one to shoot back at. That, in turn, ramps up the troops' frustration level to the point where two things happen: our morale collapses and our troops take their frustration out on the local population.

US troop morale has not collapsed, however good or 'worrying' it might be. US troops have not taken their frustration out on the local populace; if anything, the US has been quite restrained.

And the 4th Gen examples are hardly even applicable to Israel and the USSR. Should we invite comparison of Lebanon and Afghanistan with the vengeance and brutality on the part of previous wars from Britain to America to Russia? If anything, it is not too much brutality in war that is disadvantageous to a national army, it is too little: half measures and mercy to the guilty extend the conflict whereas before the warriors, and their sympathisizers, would be summarily buried in the past. Aminos Dominos.

"Both results have strategic significance, and at least the potential of being strategically decisive, the first because it affects American home front morale and the second because it drives the local population to identify with the insurgents instead of the government we are trying to support.

Yet here, these conclusions are unreachable because the initial postulates (lowered troop morale, greater violence on innocents) are A) not happening and B) not happening because of IEDs. The local Iraqi populace may be identifying with 'insurgents' (but which faction?), but that is by no means certain (the elections even make that into a bit of a stretch, to be generous). Similiarly, home front morale is affected mostly by politics, independent of battlefield victories-defeats-casualties.

And thus, the impossibility of 4th generation warfare is somewhat overstated. Rather it is the continuing 'progress' of war that makes it something 'new.' Modern war made the replacement of entire armies a possibility, thus the Civil War was decided not by courage and generalship but by mass and industry. The Cold War, or the Long War, if you will, was decided not by industry and military might alone but information. Our frontier wars will be decided by much else besides, but warriors are always inferior to soldiers.

12/25/2005 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

RWE-I would suggest you read the book "Stolen Honor" by Jug Burkett(I don't know if I spelled the name right) to sort out some of the misconceptions and stereotypes about Viet nam vets.
Burkett catalogues the various phony veterans such as the ones Kerry used in Winter Soldier.Many of the stereotypes(thousands of homeless vets,50,000suicides,etc) are largely propagated by liars posing as veterans.This has to be about the most dispicable people on the face of the earth.
I've heard the spiels from homeless dirtbags begging change to"help a homeless vet"I like to ask them what unit they were in,where in country and whatyears they served.You can spot a phony in about 5 seconds.
Most Viet Nam vets quietly returned(No victory parades) and went about their lives.I struggled with my own demons for a few years,but had some iron in my soul bought in the combat zone to overcome and prosper in life.I daresay most Viet Nam vets adjusted well.In some ways we are some of the best of our generation because Khe Sanh and the Hobo Woods were bigger challenges than cleaning out your pipe and being a big man on campus.
Maybe our generation of vets hasn't produced that many leaders because we were lower class kids and came home to carve out a life the hard way.I'm grateful for the experience and think most of our current warriors will be also.

12/25/2005 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Another reason is all the anti-war leftist slimebags took a bunch of the "Leadership" posts, and were well entrenched with their corrupt lying cronies like Kerry and Daschle and began to construct their barriers to entry.
Only those willing to sell out their country and our soldiers like Murtha and Kerry were welcome from that time on in the
"Party of the Little Guy."

12/25/2005 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

It is that third thread of the 60's, well assisted by Ronald Reagan and, following him, the technos of the Defense Industry, that cleaned out the post-Viet Nam mess, retrained the soul and regained the spirit of our military, and made today's American warrior...a goft from God to all who would be free.

I know this to be so. I was AcDu as a Marine Captain '78-'84 and kept a Reserve commitment into the early '90s. The career officers I met and worked for during that period were all the definition of professional and of patriots. They were/are, truly, Plato's Guardians.

The young men and women of America I served with, and the ones I meet today who are serving, were/are of the same cloth.

Semper Fi.

12/25/2005 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Hope Cutler chimes in on the College Scene.
My impression is that far more students see the profs as the moonbats they are.
In my day there were still too many respectable and responsible academics for such and attitude to be widespread."

Unfortunately, I don't have the time atm to really put some thought to it, but something did happen today that bugged me a bit. I'm applying for grad schools, and was told that in order to make myself stand out, I should start listing specific authors I read.

I figured that "Wretchard" would raise some eyebrows, so among my favorite modern writers I stuck Kaplan [yep, that one] and Huntington [head of the International affairs department at Harvard] in there. I sent this personal statement to a number of professors to look at. One told me to remove all references about joining the military.

The another told me that by writing such "controversial" authors as Huntington [Clash of Civilizations] and Kaplan [Balkan Ghosts], I was "taking a side," and this wasn't good. The irony is that I hadn't put either of these two authors down for those particular works - but of course, it is for these reasons that they are "controversial" and therefore blacklisted as suitable reading material, everything else is therefore suspect.

I'd thought that by listing Gramsci, Marx, and Orwell under reading background [the third I actually enjoy], that I could afford Huntington and Kaplan, but I suppose not. I also had juxtaposed those three with Hayek and Heinlein, but a third professor told me to get rid of those.

Probably for the best, I wouldn’t want to take a side with fascism, would I? Makes you wonder if you really want to go through the BS for two years holding your tong, though academic_hawk gives a bit of hope.

12/26/2005 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

Doug's reference to Robert Heinlein: "...Starship Troopers All." That's what I'm talking about Doug! I LOVE that book.

In "Starship Troopers", the MASTER storyteller addresses the issue of service to country. I just got out not that long ago, and when I came in, back in '74, there were still a few draftees around. Basically, most of them had some pretty sucky attitudes. Believe me, the draft is NOT an effective way to make sure that ALL parts of society pulls it's weight. And right now, rich men's son don't volunteer. I met exactly one millionaire's boy in service during my 27 years on active duty. He was a marine, of all things.

Heinlein got it right in Starship Troopers, but he sure took a lot of flak for it from academia. (They called him a fascist--a LOT!)

In SST, no one acquired FULL citizenship UNTIL they successfully served. That meant No voting, and NO running for office. I love this idea, because it forces those considering gov't office to have to "get into the trenches" with the rest of us Middle Class swine! Come on in, Kennedy boys, the water is fine!

12/26/2005 01:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cutler's the smart one, I'm just who he's responding to! ;-)

12/26/2005 02:55:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Marine Recruiter," Courtesy Philipines Phil

12/26/2005 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That me that was the smart one, doug.

I'm on my fifth copy of the book, first read it over 35 years ago.

Various reasons why the elites dislike it. It is quite nonPC, on multiple levels.

You'd love the read, doug, it's only 200 pages, paperback.

But the idea is sound, in each pool of Veterans the entire Political Spectrum thrives.

12/26/2005 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...


I regret disrupting the equanimity of the generally civil discourse.

Second, the military worship is becoming a caricature of pious and sanctimonious proportions. As many a boot would inform us civilians, they are just doing their jobs.

I also respect the job they are being asked to perform, but not to the exclusion of thinking about a domestic role and a personal role.

Reducing the size of a corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy. What a novel if not noble concept. The problem with hitching one's star to the big ticket revolutions is knowing that it won't happen in your lifetime. Kind of like a free feel-good position.

I am suggesting that there exist a (large) variety of 'middle ways' that we are not exploring - starting with the obvious, lack of coherent energy policy, which suggests one personal sacrifice, eliminating the love-affair with SUV's.

I don't want to argue SUV's but I do want to suggest that irresposibility hovers ominously along the periphery (penumbra?) of the idea that market forces should be allowed to force an energy transition, rather than relying upon the more aggressive direction provided by bureaucratic planning.

Which leads me to my final point about middle ways. I read recently an account of a group of British adventurer-entrepeneurs who planned, financed, and delivered some 16 or so portable solar-powered energy units to a dispersed tribe in the mountains of Burma to provide an energy source for providing medical treatment and computer use.

My gripe is that the delivery systems for charitable assistance are damaged beyond repair, far worse than the present state of the federal bureaucracy. It is close to unconscionable that this country cannot develop alternate delivery systems that provide incremental improvements of direct value to meet the needs of a selected target group. (I note that the private sector fares no better since the Non-Governmental Organizations have established little track record of success.)

It is interesting that the military is now playing the role of the group of anonymous professional staff-level politicians that did the leg-work in Washington for so many years.

It also suggests to me that we should be thinking incremental - not to the exclusion of big picture concepts - but as a missing piece of supplemental policy and action goals. I have just read that AIDS vaccine is still in doubt since the governing scientific paradigm may be flawed - an opinion that was presented to support the contention that big pharma lacked market incentives to do the research necessary to develop vaccines. I simply caution against placing too much responsibility on market forces to the exclusion of planning bureaucracies, both of which are vulnerable to corruption. No vaccine for that.

The policy initiatives should be smaller and more focused, not unlike Rumsfeld's New Military and I am not a big fan of either the man or his new military. But it is one way to break through the obstacle of lethargic corruption that paralyzes bureaucratic delivery of charitable assistance. We should be thinking more in terms of multiple balanced vectors as a solution set to any given problem, rather then the one punch fits all approach.

Doug - my snark may have been tres something. I try to remain impersonal and will try harder to keep it that way. Carry on.

12/26/2005 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Various reasons why the elites dislike it. It is quite nonPC, on multiple levels."

...And for that reason it didn't make it through the Hollywood censors. Instead we got a satire on militarist fascism, well, and naked women shower scenes - so it wasn't all bad.

"Second, the military worship is becoming a caricature of pious and sanctimonious proportions. As many a boot would inform us civilians, they are just doing their jobs."

Setting aside the version that leads to the "nobody can ever get hurt - 0 casualties or bust" mentality, do you think that if we hadn't had 4 years of constant compliments given to those in service, on T.V. and in the airports, they'd still be reenlisting at the rate they are? This is pure conjecture, but does it partially make up for the lack of sacrifice on the homefront, "well at least they understand, even if they are not going through it with us."

Enlisting in the military is a sacrifice, of time, often money, family. I think that deifying service on some level is key to espirit de corps and attracting volunteers. It also makes politically unacceptable the potential scorn and stigma that would kill the volunteer military as a whole.

12/26/2005 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

No Harm No Foul.
Many here can attest that Ritalin for Doug might improve their reading experience!
Rat and Cutler,
Click on over to Philippines Phil's site, his latest post will be of interest.

12/26/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ted Williams, Jimmy Stewart, Kennedy, and etc:
If Hollywood and Academia still gave service it's rightful place, more would serve.
Bring back Capra and abolish the NEA!

12/26/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

A middle way encounters a rich liberal:

Brain Terminal
Press Release
I concur with your complaint that needless energy waste is part of the "conservative" dogma.

12/26/2005 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Thomas_Bowdler said...

This is a facet of the war against terror that is completely unexplored by the MSM and ignored by the Democratic party. If in no other way, Iraq will resemble Vietnam in the long term legacy it will leave for the Democratic party.

The troops support the war to a degree notably beyond the public at large, the troops believe the war can be won and is being won. If the war is won, both the MSM and the Democratic party will suffer mighty blows. If the war is lost, the troops who have experience with Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to blame both the MSM and the Democratic party (depending of course on the Administration's actions - Bush might be blamed for the loss).

The legacy of Iraq will be another reduction in the power and influence of MSM with an increase in the influence of the blogospere. And, as with Vietnam, the legacy given to the Democratic party is that an entire generation of Americans will see the Democrats as weak on defense and incapable of standing up for America effectively casting them into the political wilderness. The Democrats may get a Carter-like president for a term, due to Republican misfeasance, but it will be followed by multiple Republican terms.

12/26/2005 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Free Speech in Academia
Democratic members of the committee have called the endeavor a waste of time, and the Republican chairman, Representative Thomas L. Stevenson, seemed to agree.

"If our report were issued today," Mr. Stevenson said, "I'd say our institutions of higher education are doing a fine job."

12/26/2005 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Bob Smith said...

Grass roots activism belongs by tradition to the Left. The Middle Ways or Third Rails I was suggesting are actually a marriage between activism and business acumen. Simplistic or not, history does seem to suggest that the Left provides the activism while the Right tends to business, current trends within the Bush administration notwithstanding.

The link to The Dome, shelter for the homeless, where the Right-leaning sponsor is under attack by a Left millionaire is instructive of changing times. The ‘old money’ millionaires tend to fit a profile of intransigence that does not respect political divisions. Bill Clinton’s nemesis, Richard Mellon Scaife, compares well with the Left-winger of the linked article, both of whom have a deep understanding of the power of money relative to activist upstarts with the wrong attitude.

My suggestion is that the ‘new money’ is not playing the game. I refer to the ‘Bourgeouis Bohemians’ with their digital million dollar portfolios. Time’s Man of 2005 is shared by Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono. This was an interesting choice. The Gates’ are pouring money into finding a cure for malaria and Bono talked his way into excusing $40 billion of debt for developing nations.

MIT is sponsoring a program that develops technological solutions designed specifically to meet the needs of a target community.

My point is not to drive activism but to suggest that a significant source of money is not being diverted into effective channels because those channels have not been developed. We engage in the rhetoric of corrupt bureaucracies and extol the virtues of market solutions. Maybe so. My personal ‘belief’ is that markets can never address the issues of ‘the commons’ - as a short-hand for collective issues, not simply environmental issues - despite the tortuous efforts to prove that it can. It cannot.

The Dome is an example of ‘old money’ doing things the Chicago style way. We are moving on and I do not blame ‘new money’ for protecting their assets but I think it is time to apply some old-fashioned social pressure. Previous commenter may be very accurate in suggesting that elevating the level of service is necessary to ensuring enrollment in a voluntary military. I am not comfortable with that assessment but so be it. I am very comfortable suggesting that this country is rich with new money that should be more closely coupled with investments driven by social conscience rather than rhetoric driven by financial interest. It is the least we can do if we don’t want to make a mockery of the military sacrifice required to sustain the financial viability of our portfolios.

And that doesn’t even begin to engage the economic argument.

12/26/2005 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger Consul-At-Arms said...

This sea change in national leadership will be a long time a-borning, as these things do take time, but the first baby steps are already in motion. Iraq and/or Afghan veterans are already standing for public office and, in my part of the public sector, the U.S. Department of State, reservists and guardsmen who've returned to the Foreign Service from deployments in Afghanistan and/or Iraq are now being reinforced by veterans who've been recruited, tested, and admitted as Entry Level Officers. They're a drop in the bucket, but given the prospect of a generational struggle against radical islamicist forces, may represent the thin edge of the wedge. Or, if you prefer, the nose of the camel under the tents edge.

12/26/2005 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...


I originally posted to this thread to counter Wretchard's buying of the proposition of "Taxi Driver" - all Nam vets are scary. (And I for one get the St. Crispin's Day feeling about Vietnam Vet, not the scary Deerhunter/Platoon feeling.)

The universal "spitting on" Nam vets was not true in my big city neighborhood, and based on their numbers in Congress today, most Americans respect Nam vets.

That's all, just a correction of history, lest an error slip through HERE of all places, in the Belmont Club.

Wretchard is an Aussie, we can't let Hollywood shape his understanding of America!

12/26/2005 10:14:00 PM  

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