August 04, 2003

Getting to Know the General

(8/3/03) At least two more US GIs died overnight in Iraq. For
what? Meanwhile, back here it is important to remember
that we are already in the midst of a civil war. To
this point, it has been a *civil* civil war. Everyone
should pray to whatever gods or goddesses they
acknowledge that it remain a *civil* civil war. It has
many fronts: the Democrat blockade against the
_resident's right-wing nominees for the Federal
judiciary is one front, the resistance to the
right-wing attempt at installing one of their own as
Govennor of California less than a year after losing
the election there is another front, the struggle of
the Democrats in the Texas legislature to thwart
radical reconstructive surgery down there is another
front, the opposition to Calm 'Em Powell's bratty son
Michael's FCC decision to fork over more bandwidth and
air time for corporate shills pushing Stepford news
and programmming is yet another front...Indeed, the
one understandable albeit perhaps short-sighted reason
for Al Gore's mute retirement from the field of battle
after the disgraceful Supreme In Just Us decision in
Bush vs. Gore is his concern about civil
unrest...Well, if this country succumbs to what
amounts to a Fascist take-over (Remember, Mussolini
insightfully said "Fascism" would be more aptly named
"Corporatism'), we will be worse off than we would
have been with civil unrest and an ostracized
_residency in 2000. Now, we are on the verge of
long-term, irretrievable ruin and abasement of the
principles on which the U.S. is predicated (whoever
short of them it has fallen in its history, these are
still the principles for which the Republic declared
itself and what it has strived toward...until this
mockery and this coup)...Turning back this onslaught
on the US Constitution and the core values of the U.S.
in the 2004 election is all that matters now...As the
LNS has stated before, we need "offense in depth," we
need several Democratic leaders willing to risk grave
politicial and perhaps even physical danger in the
next year and several months, we need champions who
have each carved out distinct positions BECAUSE we do
not know what kind of counterfeit Trifecta ticket the
-resident might attempt to cash in, nor do we know
what is implied in Tim Rushdirt's eerie aside to Sen.
Bob Graham (D-Fraudida) on a recent Meat The Press --
as they were signing off, Rushdirt *warmly* said to
Graham: "Be careful out there on the campaign trail,
Senator." Here from the incomparable Gene Lyons
(co-author of Hunting of The President) and Arkansas
columnist, is a portrait of Wesley Clark, who is a)
one of the names scrawled on the John O'Neil wall of
heroes, and b) a person with a role to play in the
restoration of this Republic...Graham-Clark or
Clark-Graham sound very healthy for America and very palpable for
the Electoral College sweepstakes...

Getting to Know the General
by Gene Lyons
In a recent column urging Gen. Wesley Clark to run for
president, I
mentioned a friend who questioned his political
skills. Because Clark
failed to recognize her after a couple of meetings as
David Pryor or
Bill Clinton would have, she suspected he lacked the
personal charm to
which Arkansas voters respond. After it appeared, I
got a call from a
book publicist who'd helped Clark with his book Waging
Modern War.

At every appearance, she said, many in the audience
were veterans who'd
served under Clark during his three decades as an Army
officer. The
general, she said, recognized every single one,
greeting them by name.
She'd never seen him hesitate.

Given that Clark's willpower and ambition have been
recognized since he
graduated first in his West Point class in 1966, this
struck me as a telling
anecdote. Not every military hero earns the affection
and respect of his men.
I had two uncles who served as infantry grunts under
Gen. Douglas
MacArthur in the Phillipines and in Korea. They
thought him a vainglorious
megalomaniac who'd sacrificed soldier's lives to win
medals for himself
--not necessarily history's judgement, but theirs.

Interestingly, it's a theme Clark himself discussed
with the authors of
two recent magazine profiles, by Tom Junod in the
current Esquire
and Duncan Murrell in the May/June Oxford American.
Both are worth
looking up for anybody intrigued with the idea of a
Clark candidacy.

Clark told Murrell that Americans' current tendency to
lionize the military
is partly due to post-9/11 fear, partly to lack of
experience with the real thing.
"We've been the beneficiaries of that lack of
familiarity," he said,
sentimentalizing soldiers as patriotic icons without
feeling the necessity
of serving. One result, as Murrell writes, is
politicians who feel free
"to use the military as a symbol, sending soldiers off
to wars that don't
affect most American families directly by putting
their children in harm's way."

Hence the popularity of a manifest fraud like
President Junior--who used
his father's political connections to secure a cushy
spot in the Texas Air
National Guard, got himself grounded after finishing
flight school, and appears
never to have showed up in Alabama to complete his
across an aircraft carrier deck in a flightsuit with
"Commander in Chief"
emblazoned on the front. An earlier generation would
have laughed, but
millions who resented Bill Clinton's artfully
sidestepping Vietnam are thrilled
by George W. Bush's "Top Gun" theatrics.

Now hear Clark, who despite being one of the first
West Point cadets to ask
"Why are we in Vietnam?" his instructors say, earned a
Purple Heart and the
Silver Star in combat there: "I think a time like this
is an interesting point in
American history. Many of the things that we've taken
for granted, that have
shaped our international strategy, our domestic
environment--they're up for
grabs right now. We got walloped on 9/11, and now
Americans are asking
themselves what's out there. They're saying 'Hey! Man,
these people are
supposed to like us! And what happened with Russia and
the Soviet Union?
Where is China?' Ordinary Americans are now much more
interested in the
world beyond. And in combination with the war on
terror, you've got a sort
of rollback to a sort of imperial presidency., a
presidency that's much more
private, and an investigatory service with greater
authority to come after
ordinary Americans. We thought we put that to rest
after the excesses of
the Nixon administration and Vietnam. I believed that
when I fought in
Vietnam I represented the right of all Americansto
express their views.
So I'm concerned."

As a CNN military analyst, Clark opposed the rush to
substitute Saddam Hussein for Osama bin Laden as
Public Enemy #1. Like many Army generals, he thought
U.S. forces much too light on the ground--fearing
precisely the chaos that's enveloped Iraq since
Baghdad fell. The Bush administration, he warned in
April, had "gloated much too soon."

The great theme of the post-Vietnam military reforms
that transformed the
U.S. Army, he explained to Esquire, was personal
accountability. "In the Navy,
when a ship runs aground," he said "the commanding
officer is relieved of duty,
no matter what the reason. Now, I'm not saying we
ought to hold politicians to
that standard, but still..."

He didn't finish the thought, but he did say "the
ultimate consideration for anyone running for
president against George Bush [is] 'how much pain you
can bear.'" My hope is that watching this
administration of country club toughs stonewall a
proper 9/11 investigation, deceive the American people
about a non-existent Iraqi nuclear threat, then alibi
that it's not Junior's fault because the president and
his national security advisor failed to read the
"National Intelligence Estimate," will convince Clark
that his country needs him again.


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Posted by richard at August 4, 2003 07:40 AM