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05 July 2010


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Thinking about generals, you might want to see the trailer for a documentary that I hear is must viewing: The Pat Tillman Story.


William R. Cumming

ooking back on General Marshall the outstanding trait of his IMO was self-control! Can this be taught or learned?

clifford kiracofe

The George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, VA:

Marshall House, Leesburg, VA:

clifford kiracofe


Well, IMO Petraeus and McChrysal, etal are more on the order of Neocon boy-toys.

Patrick Lang


Yes. pl

Patrick Lang


I presume that you mean that they are toys for the neocons rather than that they are neocons themselves. pl

Clifford Kiracofe


1. Yes, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, or Hagee and some of the Christian Zionist leaders.

That is, leaders who follow the Neocons' ideas/teaching/influence/ideology. They are not Neocons themselves. Perhaps one could say the have been "Neoconized" to varying degrees.

Neocon icon Prof. Leo Strauss taught his initiates that there were circles within circles. The innermost circle comprised the "philosophers" who, in turn, influenced and guided the outer circles of "gentlemen." Outside these cirlces, of course, are the profane masses who need to be ruled by the philosophers indirectly through the gentlemen.

In Straussian parlance, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Petraeus, McChrystal would be the "gentlemen" guided by the "philosophers" (Neocons).

2. To put a sharper point on the "disinterestedness" issue one might consider the history and present activity of L-3 Communications and contemplate Gecko-ism and its relationship to certain military:


The Fredricksburg paper has a nice write up on the Republics on-going troubles with generals and presidential relations.



The Republican Party is just as gung ho about the war in Afghanistan as the Pentagon is, so I find it a bit odd that General McChrystal gets canned for badmouthing this war, but Chairman Steele doesn't for doing the same. I suppose that one can argue that this double standard exists between the the Republican Party and the Pentagon because employees of the Republican Party are merely hired to be cheerleaders for the Afghan War, while employees of the Pentagon are hired to fight and die for this war. But this will all change once the Republican Party does what the Pentagon has recently done, which is to require all their employees to undergo rigorous screening by the pro-war propaganda machine before saying a single word to the press.


And yet I still think that because the Republican Party has a reputation for being a magnet for white supremacists, black Republicans are given more leeway to go against the party line. So the last thing the Republicans want to do is to give the Democratic Party more ammo to declare the Republican Party a safe haven for the Klan. This is why I think that had Steele been a white guy he would be fired from his job just as swiftly as McChrystal was fired from his.


The situation was pretty obvious in the run up to, and during, the Iraq war. On every cable channel was a General discussing not only the military aspects of the operation but using their "bully pulpit" to make political points for the invasion/occupation as well. "If the only tool I have is a hammer I'll likely treat every problem as a nail" seems to sum up our current approach to foreign policy.

Ike's warning about the MIC has fallen on deaf ears, unfortunately. Given our celebrity culture it should come as no surprise that many Americans admire the Generals.

My admiration is for the guys who are willing to die for our safety. Unfortunately, IMO, their willingness to do this is exploited by those who call them the "best and the brightest". There is no doubt in my mind that they don't really view them that way. Who sends their best and brightest off to die?

Patrick Lang


Stanley was not "canned" for badmouthing the war. pl



Here is how McChrystal's Chief of Operations told Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings that the war in Afghanistan is going to end: "'It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win' said Major General Bill Mayville, 'This is going to end in an argument.'"


So you still believe that Mayville's statement about the Afghan War not being winnable has nothing to do with McChrystal being fired? I hope you don't because I don't either.

Patrick Lang


No. He was fired for disrespect. pl

clifford kiracofe

Seems the split in the Republican Party between the Neoconized far right group and the others of a more traditional stripe (libertarian, moderate, or conservative) is noticed abroad:

"Those arguing that he should step down have included the conservative commentator and editor of the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol. "One thing as a Republican I think Republicans can be proud of is that we don't politicise foreign wars," he said. "And unfortunately, Michael Steele politicised this in a way that doesn't reflect the view of the huge majority of Republicans. I think it would be better if he went."

Liz Cheney, the former State Department official and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, concurred. But not everyone in the party has been as quick to abandon their own chairman. "Chairman Steele should not back off. He is giving the country – especially young people – hope as he speaks truth about this war," Ron Paul, libertarian member of Congress from Texas and opponent of the war, countered.

Mr Steele made the remarks at a fund-raising event in Connecticut. "This was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," he said. If [Obama]'s such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do; is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed." www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/

Chairman Steele is correct to point out some historical context. The Neoconized Republicans live in a fantasy world of magical thought. They are Neocon toys...

In my book, Dark Crusade (London: Tauris, 2009), I devote some space to explain how the Republican Party got Neoconized in its foreign policy. There are plenty of footnotes and citations for those who wish to explore the matter.

evil is evil

Anyone who rises to the level of general, admiral or other asinine ranks is just a simple suckup with a "rabbi."

They are not better soldiers,they are not better officers, they are promoted on who they know and who they blow.

Frightening to me is the career military families where multiple generations are allowed to rise as if daddy and granddaddy's record is sufficient.

Perfect example, 5 crash McCain.

His grandfather would have been courts martialed if the US had not been concentrating on the yo-yos who screwed up in Hawaii.

He left the troops on Guadalcanal with no air cover and no planes when he ran off to the east. Real hero.

Patrick Lang


Harsh. I don't think that applies to Marshall who had no rabbi other than FDR. pl


We should look to find someone like George Marshall, one of the most disinterested men who ever lived. We are failing in that search.

Pat, I agree that there are "some" better leaders out there a la Macgregor. But their numbers are exceptionally small these days - mainly due to the pernicious influence of the "political" flags and their uniformed, retired and politician "rabbis." Many, too many of them ticket out by O-5 or O-6; none are allowed into the Flag Club by the current residents, war or no war withstanding. After of lifetime of success and proven results, why should they continue to beat their heads into the brick wall?

And we are not even trying to look for the next Marshall. Not even one wit. Instead, we are left with modern-day MacArthur wannabes who cannot even win once, much less have a mix Dougout Doug record.

As you point out, FDR cultivated Marshall and gave unto him the keys of the kingdom. Is Obama even trying to find his own? Or is he completely under the spell of (Bush appointed) Gates, Hollywood Mike and the rest of the "Gods and Generals"? I suspect he's under their thrall, too timid to exercise his authority and act like Lincoln (firing frequently until Grant emerged). And, as the Netenyahu outcome proves, he's unable to stand up to outside pressure - esp the type of pressure that makes WH pollsters nervous of a domestic backlash.

This does not bode well for our nation.


Babak Makkinejad

William R. Cumming:

Marshall was married to a woman who refused sex on the account of her heart condition.

He learnt self-control the hardway (no pun intended).

clifford kiracofe

Pat Buchanan nails it with respect to the battle in the Republican Party between Neocons and traditional groups (libertarian, moderate, conservative):

"William Kristol’s demand for Steele’s resignation was echoed by Charles Krauthammer and Liz Cheney, daughter of the vice president. From Afghanistan, Steele was attacked by Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who suggested he think again about his capacity to lead the Republican National Committee.

Behind the swiftness and severity of the attacks on one of their own by Republican pundits and politicians are motives more serious and sinister than exasperation at another gaffe by Michael Steele.

The War Party is conducting this preemptive strike on Steele to send a message to dissenters. In Krauthammer’s phrase, it is now a “capital offense” for a Republican leader not to support the Obama troop surge and the Obama-Petraeus policy."

High time the Republican Party excretes the Neocons and the Neoconized faction.

Old Gun Pilot

Col., I Share your admiration for Gen. Marshall. It may be a cliche, but for Marshall it's true. He was the right man, at the right place at the right time. Twice in fact, first as Chief of Staff and later as Secretary of State. But I think it's also true that in addition to FDR, Marshall had a very powerful "rabbi" in the Army: Gen. "Black Jack" Pershing. Marshall served on Pershing's staff in France and Pershing no doubt eased the way for Marshall's rise to the top, if in no other way, by assuring that Marshall's qualifications and abilities were not overlooked. The problem is not that an officer has a "rabbi". the problem is with an officer moving up on nothing more than the influence of a "Rabbi".

Patrick Lang


Pershing probably kept him from being completely disregarded. He was a junior MG when FDR personally picked him for CofS. pl

William R. Cumming

The service of Marshall in WWI on Pershing's staff is worth intensive study and analysis. Of course Pershing himself was remarkable as was the deployment of over 2 million troops to France in about 2 years regardless of their training level and weapons status.
As to Babak's comment I donated a family treasure, an autographed copy of a "Soldiers Wife" to the Marshall library at VMI. Signed by both the General and his wife who so courteously did so for my mother when she drove out to Leesburg to accomplish it in the 1950's.
Perhaps history will conclude Marshall the greatest soldier of the 20th Century and his protege Eisenhower a remarkable soldier and politician. Ike is rising fast in the ranks of the most exalted of the Presidents. The Fifties were a time of great complexity for US and its society and interesting how now looked back upon as a Golden Age. The bottom line on both Marshall and IKE is that both understood the American fighting man including those who were drafted and not volunteers. I strongly recommend the very interesting mobilization study for WWI by Ike's son John Eisenhower and how the groundwork was laid for WWI and its vast mobilization.
Perhaps where there is a will there is a way.

Patrick Lang


That would be the second Mrs. Marshall. pl


I would really like to learn more how the promotion system works. Why do certain officers stall at colonel rank while others move up to 3 and 4 stars? Is it due to political savvy, a highly placed mentor or something else?

Patrick Lang


Actually, the sharply pyramidal nature of the rank structure requires that there be many fewer 0-7s than 0-6s. This continues at each higher level. Lieutenant colonel is considered to be a successful career, full colonel even more so. I think you do not understand how difficult it is to get that eagle pinned on your shoulder. This is somewhat obscured at present by the "forever war" and the stresses that such a thing puts on the promotion system. In the US Army promotion boards take into consideration the needs of the service by specialty and the person's total service record as represented by the collection of his/her evaluation reports, decorations, jobs held, etc. Anything derogatory or even "average" result in a non-selection and career death.

This all true up through colonel, after that the situation is quite different because of the very small number of possible promotions. A record of achievement still counts, but the desire of the service to have officers promoted in a given specialty in a given year becomes much more important. After that, there is the all important issue of "sponsorship" or "mentoring" as it is euphemistically called. this results in a lot of promotion of suck-ups and sons-in-law. There is also a lot of "I'll vote for your guy this year if you remember my nephew next year." This sort of thing is passed around in the general officer "club."

Am I bitter about this? Not a bit. I was raised in the Army and I was gratified to make full colonel although I did not expect it. For me, soldiering was its own reward. I try not to be self referential, but your question seems to demand it. In my case the president of the board that would have promoted me to BG, if it had occurred, told me afterward (a rare thing) that the Army simply did not want to promote a Middle East specialist who was an intelligence officer that year (or any year actually). If there had been a quota I would have been promoted. So, I was an SES instead. pl

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