(top) George Bush compiled an excellent record for years. with hundreds of hours airborne as an Air National Guard fighter pilot. Democrats and CBS' Dan Rather tried to portray him as AWOL for part of his 6th year in the ANG.(bottom) Donald Rumsfeld, after a scholarship to Princeton, was a Navy pilot and aviation instructor before the Vietnam War.
[Dec14 update: IRAQ MEDIA REVOLUTION? See WebWorld below.Dec 08 James Baker and Dec 07 Iraq update: See WebWorld 'SURRENDER MONKEYS'.] The Iraq debate will go on for decades. Was Bush-Rumsfeld too military-oriented or too politically correct, too offensive or too defensive, too idealistic or too cynical, too inarticulate and media-incompetent, too ignorant of life in Araby? In other words, was an ambitious Ivy League duo too inadequate, or just wrong-headed, in daring to take this unique global war from the smoking ruins of New York's Ground Zero back to the fiery Middle East tinderbox? In April 2003 Baghdad "fell" to the U.S. Army and Marines---or at least the giant statue of Saddam Hussein fell. Today the capital is now a daily headline, more insecure than ever. Bush-Rumsfeld enabled Free Elections, training of Iraqi police and military, and billions spent (or lost) in contracts for nation building. Bush-Rumsfeld never enabled security in Baghdad, Anbar Province and the Shia south. They have given heart to enemies foreign and domestic and, in varying degrees, disappointed virtually everyone who supported their boldness and risk-taking.
Vietnam redux? Baghdad is far more violent than the Saigon I knew in wartime. Thugs, assassins and Islamics use urban cover, kidnappings, lucrative oil smuggling, suicide bombers and media manipulation to improvise on the cheap. They murder the innocent, exploit Washington's lawyered ROE (Rules of Engagement), and bleed the brave but extremely expensive, under-manned U.S. military. Critics are no longer just the usual suspects, the Koranic ranters, the Baby Boomer Left, the daily MSM feeds. Even friendlies who dread a world without U.S. power are beginning to see Iraq as a burning morass of quagmire and blood. These aren't the fevered sloganeers, shouting "agents of Big Oil," "agents of Haliburton," "agents of the Illuminati," "agents of Satan" etc. The judgement of George Bush and (finally former) Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is being re-evaluated, even by James Baker's so-called ISG (Iraq Study Group), these Old Boys from Poppy Bush's crowd now being welcomed, if not begged, into the White House for "special consultation." Which raises a delicate question the ISG almost certainly will not raise: Does a military background---or the lack of one---matter in national leadership during war? Alternately, was the problem this: that Bush-Rumsfeld were stubborn imperialist hawks (chicken or otherwise), angering the Koranic fanatic, when they could have been or should have been dialoguing doves like peace-loving socialistas who won't make the muslims angry? That is, should Bush-Rumsfeld have been less combative and more Kumbaya? Should they have waited for Saddam Hussein to go nuclear--- like the Iranian mullahs are planning to go--- rather than (according to the Hate Bush Commandos) "lying" about Saddam's WMD? There's a fundamental fact about George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, something which the military would understand and to which civilians, media and hard-core partisans pay scant attention. Both were military aviators, in peacetime. Meaning? For most people, meaning nothing. But let's take a closer look at backgrounds. U.S. wartime history shows no preference for Commanders-in-Chief with a military background. Au contraire. The two greatest wartime leaders were life-long civilians, i.e. they did not "serve" : Abraham Lincoln, a corporate-friendly country lawyer/man of the people. and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Republic's pioneer limousine liberal. Case closed? But what about a look across the pond? A young man made a name (and enemies) for himself, daring to adventure simultaneously as both a war correspondent and a soldier, commissioned in the Queen's Own Hussars, literally dodging bullets and death on three continents from Cuba to Africa to the Afghan border area (known today for bin Laden's Tora Bora hideout). He was cheered on by his spirited mother, Lady Churchill (an American daughter, a society beauty and musical talent, born Jennie Jerome in Brooklyn, NY). Reviled by trade unionists and socialists, rebuked by many conservatives, envied by most everyone, he was destroyed (but not quite) by the horrendous British loss at Gallipoli in WW I (30,000 killed). Yet he came back eventually to lead England in its 'darkest' and 'finest hour' against the obsessed Austrian trench corporal, Adolf Hitler. Winston Churchill as a wartime leader is about as immortal as you get in today's secular society. His military background was clearly Earth-bound, not airborne. He was not a fly guy.
Fast forward to the U.S. in Iraq today. Whether or
not you call it a war or, with the Democrats' Nancy San Francisco Pelosi, "a
situation that needs to be resolved," U.S. forces won in 2003. The lightning
offensive stunned even critics. It was widely rumored that secret Baathist
weapons had apocalypse in store for American units before Baghdad. That
didn't happen. Americans kept moving and stormed Baghdad. The politically
correct White House, of course, ordered them not to flash the American flag , don't get
tough with looters, don't be Romans, don't make the muslims angry and be sure to get get defensive on charges of being "Crusaders." Saddam Hussein, the cunning butcher,
was gone with the desert wind. The boldness of Bush, despite its
idealistic and pc underbelly, prevailed, or seemed to. The "cowboy" won. U.S. forces won and
liberated. The Vietnam syndrome of defeat was overcome, yes? At last.
Victory. Say it again. Vic---to---ry! Americans could rejoice and feel the
pride. For a moment anti-Americans and Michael Moore groupies were relatively quiet, if not choking.
[foto: Business School Globalizers. Bush and Rumsfeld support tightened borders in Iraq (Democrats complain) and crumbling borders back home in the USA (Democrats approve.)]
And now the problem: George Bush and the U.S. won the war but can't seem to win the aftermath. A true victor enforces security. (The North Vietnamese Communists, after capturing Saigon---as I personally witnessed--- immediately secured the country, as Americans once did in Japan---and later in Germany after mopping-up operations against fanatical 'werewolf' remnants.) In Iraq, no. In Iraq a bloody aftermath of hit-and-run insurgents continues. The terror is even media-perfected, designed to erode U.S. resolve , especially the 'staying power' of U.S. entitlement democracy and its insta polls of an unusually obese population. The MSM's daily horror reports--which it will not do for the constant carnage on U.S. roads and murders in U.S. cities---suggests that what's been "liberated" are the forces of anarchy, terror, homicidal mayhem and great skill in the anti-American Media War. Previously only Saddam's Sunni henchmen could slaughter and mutilate freely. Now Shia death squads, U.S.-liberated, can do it too, not to mention common thugs and agents for Syria and Tehran's mullahs. They can do it to Americans or to each other. Even foreign Islamics like Al-Qaeda have new opportunities to enter Iraq, stir the pot and kill for Allah. The "sensitive" White House had ordered U.S. forces not to scratch or deface anything on a "holy mosque" at a time when soldiers knew the mosques were used as bunkers or military depots. Today the Sunni and Shia blow up each other's "holy mosques" while MSM, after inditing the White House for possible instances of "torture" or "disrespecting muslim sensibilities," now frets about "civil war" as another dreaded sign of U.S. incompetence, Was the U.S. mission accomplished? Yes, if you define it as limited to overthrowing Saddam and promoting free elections that assisted the moderate Kurds and empowered the Shia. And if you ignore unintended consequences like a destabilized Iraq, still unsecured, in a volatile region best known for oil, sand, the rule of fear and Islamic fanatics. If the mission is not in fact accomplished, despite many citizens and most Democrats wanting to cut out now---99% of pizza eaters tired or troubled by the sacrifices that 1% of Americans are making--- what exactly is the problem with the White House leadership? Is the civilian/military dichotomy a relevant factor here? The common response is no. CIC (Commander-in-Chief) George Bush is a civilian who listens to the knowledgeable military chiefs under him. Perfectly Constitutional. Chain of Command all the way. Oval Office to Pentagon to Anbar Province. As for military expertise, Republicans have their favorite "experts," Democrats have theirs. Sometimes even Lefties will stray from a traditional anti-military "warmonger" stance when they discover useful Generals, i.e. brass who will disagree publicly with Bush policy. When it comes to BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome), anyone in or out of uniform is potentially useful. For platitudinous anti-Americans, George Bush was a "Christian cowboy" surrounded by chicken hawks. These draft-dodging chicken hawks are also known as "neo-cons," or recovered Marxies and Israel-lovers, thought to have had a Jewish-Svengali influence over Bush, except for persuaders like SecDef Donald Rumsfeld and Vice-President Dick Cheney. (They may classify Rumsfeld and Cheney as chicken hawk Svengalis, but normally not of the Jewish persuasion.). While vilifying Bush as something he never was, a cowboy, his detractors rarely mention something he actually was. He spent years as a true blue American pilot of fighter jets. For the 2004 Presidential campaign, Democrats cleverly managed to gloss over that when trying to impale him again with the old charge of being "AWOL for National Guard duty in Alabama,"(Dan Rather helping out at CBS before the blog-exposed forgery against Bush ended Rather's big Anchor Dude career.) This was an old story referring to the last period of his six years and hundreds of hours flying F-102's with the Air National Guard. It was old but still useful, as it would neatly over-shadow, on sound-bite media, the excellent record he had compiled as an ANG fighter pilot. The AWOL claim also played well with the Democratic charge that Bush ducked out of Vietnam duty, as did many leading Dems and Pubs. (Note: Bush's eligibilty for VN duty came late in the war, there was a real glut of pilots in 1972. That said, could he and should he have joined the relatively few highly privileged who served in Vietnam? In this writer's opinion the point is interesting, and arguable, and probably could only be settled conclusively, if ever, by extensive and intensive investigation of many sources. It's for future historians. Who would bother at this time? Bush is not running again.) At any rate, we have George Bush established as a "fly guy" (like his Presidential father, in fact.) Traits of a fighter pilot: daring, bold, risk-taking, active, practical, more inclined to action than introspection and philosophy (You don't read Plato in a cockpit.) Can do, will do, must do. Too much danger and reality to be a snob (your life depends on those maintenance mechanics) yet inescapably elite, soaring high up in the blue dazzle, fabulous speeds and maneuvers, the exhiliration known only to the special few with the right stuff. Yes, you certainly support those boots on the ground, but at that altitude you can't really see them. And George Bush's Secretary of Defense (till very recently), his single most important collaborator in running the war was, yes, another one. Another fly guy. The ever controversial Donald Rumsfeld was a Naval pilot and aviation instructor, from the 50's, well before the Vietnam conflict. Military pilots can understand each other. In terms of the "Dichotomy," Bush and Rumsfeld were hybrids. They were not pure civilian like Lincoln and FDR, nor career military men, like President Dwight D. Eisenhower. They were civilians with a military background. President Theodore Roosevelt was a hybrid too. On horseback he had charged his way to fame with U.S. Cavalry in Cuba in the Spanish-American War, leading his "Rough Riders" of college football players, polo players and cowboys. Bush and Rumsfeld are hybrids of the air. Bush's father, the first President Bush, is a hybrid of the air too, but war-tested, exceptionally decorated, with 56 combat missions over the Pacific in WW II, and rescued at sea after being shot down by the Japanese. SenatorJohn McCain, although hailing from a prominent Navy family, the son and grandson of Admirals, wound up as a very unusual hybrid. An older man than the current President, he got to Vietnam in time to serve on the aircraft carrier Oriskaney, fly a Skyhawk on bombing missions and on October 26, 1967, he was shot down over Hanoi, ejected, severely injured, captured, beaten and was held 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war. Detractors like to refer to McCain as "the Manchurian candidate," too friendly to Vietnam, or not having done enough in Congress for U.S. POWs in Vietnam, or not being a "true conservative," but he undoubtedly spent more time on the ground, as a POW, than up in the wild blue yonder. Is the typical background of a pilot problematic for the command of a war? Debatable, surely. In a potential conflict with Mullah Iran, involving the very strategic Strait of Hormuz and possibly the bombing of nuclear facilities, Naval and Air force could be paramount. Iraq, however, has been very terra firma: shadowy criminals, insurgents and fanatics using roads, urban cover and neighborhoods with the skill and cunning of house rats facing the occasional U.S. "exterminator" and his lawyered ROE. Reports persist that the rodent population is thriving, despite the world's greatest military. Donald Rumsfeld, of course, was brought in to shake-up and re-organize the Pentagon for future hi-tech wars, not to fight this war. Then Iraq happened on his watch.The hard-nosed can-do bureaucratic organizer and Princeton wrestler with an aviator background had an additional job to do. The future collided with the present, and maybe some of the past. Generals grumbled, while Bush and Rumsfeld, two pilots who understood each other, stuck together during years of trouble in Iraq. The rest is media-driven history. Debates and recriminations will go on. Politicians will politic. Meanwhile, there is this special little list of 'hybrids.': Theodore Roosevelt, George Bush (the father), John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush (the son.) not to mention Winston Churchill. They all had a military background. All, even the non-combattants, compiled fine records. They were all brave and competent in what they did. We also know which two had the least personal experience in the daily realities of mortal confrontation, or slogging and grinding in the boondocks How significant is this? That's up for debate. Abraham Lincoln carried the war of his day, as did Winston Churchill his. One was a confirmed civilian. The other lived life-and-death reality for years, on green or not-so-green earth, as did a number of leaders from ancient Greece and Rome.
WebWorld: Dec14 update: IRAQ MEDIA REVOLUTION? Fair description of the brand new Iraqslogger.com, a 24/7 site doing all-Iraq-all-the-time, just when you thought everybody's had enough from the suffocating Sandbox? Maybe, just maybe. And maybe not, especially if you agree with many on the Right that this bold new venture's Director, former CNN news chief Eason Jordan, is just a discredited liberal/left partisan. At Captain Ed's prestigious site, for example, they are appalled. How does this Jordan even show his face again? Why isn't he hunkered down in academe, teaching privileged kids how imperialistic and oppressive their country is? He left CNN in 2005 under pressure (many would say disgrace). It wasn't just the CNN record of sucking up to Saddam's brutal regime in exchange for special access. Jordan (albeit privately and off-the-record) is alleged to have accused the U.S. military of deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq. (He continues to deny this, saying he was mis-quoted.) In other words, you can view Eason Jordan either as unfairly maligned or a cheeky weasel. Could there be a third view which synthesizes the first two? That is, could Jordan be attempting to re-invent both himself and war coverage via a new vehicle that does what the MSM and the White House can't or won't do: open up the story to full spectrum, not just usual media, but also bloggers, Iraqi media, special reports, the people, the soldiers, the "holistic" picture---i.e. the panorama, not just the narrowly focused MSM's daily Headline Hell? Can they pull it off? We'll see. Already Jordan's invited Michelle Malkin, the right-wing "Filipina Firebrand" to Iraq to see what new evidence she can find to back up her allegations about the AP's "fraudulent war coverage" by its mysterious "Captain Jamil Hussein." This could be interesting. It does not sound like something CNN would do, does it? Iraqslog is not a one-man show, either. It's a multi-talented venture, with military, intelligence and hi-tech support. This is another reason gringoVision sees it as possibly the first really serious effort in the 4GW (or even 5GW) Information War, an area in which the U.S. has been beaten badly for years. If it is, the jihadis, who've more or less mastered and monopolized the art of 4th Generation War, have reason to worry. Before long it may not be as easy for the MSM/Jihadi daily Atrocity Service to sap the will of the U.S. pizza-eating public.We'll see. Is Eason Jordan perhaps learning the lyrics to his Redemption Song? We'll see. Stay tuned.
Nov 08 Iraq update: Former Sec. of State James A. Baker III reacts to yesterday's NY Post front page portrayal of him as a 'surrender monkey.' Nov 07: Riotous NY Post front page depicts co-chairmen of the ISG, Iraq Study Group (sometimes known as the Iraq Surrender Group.) The high-powered lawyer pal of Poppy Bush,James Baker (Pub) is photo-shopped with ex-Congressman Lee Hamilton (Dem).They look like, well, very tony, er, Washingtony, mammals. 'SURRENDER MONkEYS' now viewable via blog magic.