Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Saturday, January 24, 2004  

Worth Stealing Whole

This email was written to Jonah Goldberg today. I'm quoting the whole thing because it is that excellent, thus no need to link:

Good morning, Mr. Goldberg. My name is [Name withheld] and I've enjoyed your columns for about a year now (also managed to catch your spot on The Daily Show. Keep up the good work). Anyway, just wanted to give a perspective on Wesley Clark from the active-duty side of things.

I'm currently a major in the U.S. Air Force (flying special ops helicopters in [withheld], if you're curious) and nothing that Clark has said or done has surprised me in the least. Why? Because he acts just like the vast majority of general officers that it has been my displeasure to deal with during my 16 years in the U.S. military.

Generals are, for the most part, a gigantic pain in the ass and we usually accomplish our military objectives despite their chaos-inducing presence. There are a few good generals here and there but most of them are an embarrassment. Here's a couple of reasons why that is so: - Generals are ambitious in the same way that wolverines are aggressive. It's their defining trait.

A few years ago, the Army Command and Staff College ask during an informal survey "Would your division's commanding general throw his own mother under a bus if it would get him promoted?" 60% of the majors and colonels replied "Not only yes, hell yes!" I know that running for President pretty much demands a nauseating degree of ambition but this kind of hyper-careerism can't be healthy, in my opinion.

Generals are dull. I don't mean this in the cant-tell-a-good-joke kind of way. I mean the anti-intellectual, zero-curiousity, hasn't-read-a-real-book-in-years kind of dull. Wesley Clark obviously had (and still probably has) no freakin' idea who Michael Moore is or what he stands for. All he knows is that Moore is famous and other Democrats like him. Hell, Clark doesn't even know anything about CAPPS II, the system he was supposedly advocating as a board member!

I could go and on on this theme. Take it from me, most generals are as sharp as a bowling ball and Clark is no exception. - Generals are arrogant. Generals truly believe that they are completely right 100% of the time and woe to those underlings who demonstrate that this isn't so. This trait is what makes generals so dangerous. They will ignore sound advice and do the stupidest things imaginable, all because "Well, I'm a general, dammit, I know what I'm doing and. . . ugh, what was the question again?" Generals can be damn near unreasonable when they get their minds made up and it's almost impossible to get them to see an alternative way of doing things. Scary stuff to see in the flesh.

Hopefully I'll never have to experience the Wes Clark brand of hubris. - Generals are dishonest. This is a tricky charge to throw out, but it's the sad truth. I've seen more out-and-out lies from general officers than any other people in the military. In a weird way, they are just like professional politicians in this regard. They act like the main character from "Memento", they can't remember a @#$% thing they said or wrote older than 15 minutes ago. If it wasn't so frustrating, it might be funny.

Once again, just compare anything Clark says now to anything that came out of his mouth one year ago. Weird, huh? That's all for me. Pet Cosmo for me, take care of yourself and keep up the good fight. The troops are behind you guys at NRO all the way!

This is exactly what a great many people find in "leaders" everywhere - politicians, bosses, professors, ministers (priests, sisters, brothers, rabbis). It's also a trait well known in men - that there are some ( a lot) whom you can't tell anything to.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:18 AM |