Now We Have Both Emperors And Generals Who Don’t Wear Clothes

Ed Raymond

Lee Marvin, one of my favorite tough-guy actors, could play military privates or generals and make them both believable. Perhaps not too many people know that Private Lee Marvin, U.S. Marine Corps, was awarded the Navy Cross in the World War II landing on Iwo Jima for helping to conquer Mount Suribachi. That mountain has been immortalized by the flag-raising monument in D.C. at the Marine Corps Memorial. The Navy Cross is the second highest military decoration for Navy and Marine personnel next to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
   Marvin was severely wounded in the butt while attacking Japanese fortifications about halfway up the mountain. He was pulled down the mountain on a litter by his squad leader, Sergeant Bob Keeshan, who also won the Navy Cross that day for leading his men up the mountain through intensive fire. Keeshan was also wounded hauling Marvin down the hill. He asked Marvin where he got hit. Lee always saw the humor in a near tragedy. His reply: “If you make it home before me, tell Mom to sell the outhouse!”
   Private Lee Marvin is buried alongside generals in Arlington Cemetery. Sergeant Keeshan died in 2004, after playing Captain Kangaroo on TV for many years.
  Another one of our war heroes was a tattoo-covered Navy Seal who was an expert in small arms and hand-to-hand combat. As a sniper and Seal in Vietnam, he had 25 confirmed kills of Viet Cong. After the Vietnam War, he was ordained a minister and became a pacifist. He dedicated the rest of his life to leading children down the right path. He always wore a sweater on TV to cover up his very colorful tattoos. Was there ever a nicer person for young children to talk to than Mr. Rogers?

Our “Volunteer”
Military Is Becoming
Like The Legions When
Rome Collapsed

  I was ten years old when World War II started. I remember making ships and airplanes out of cardboard and wood and playing war with them. An aircraft carrier complete with planes was one of my prized creations. Near the end of the war, I was making rifles and machine guns out of wood in our “shop” and storing them in an old corn crib on the farm. My two older brothers were drafted. One served in the Army Air Force and one went to Japan immediately after the defeat of the Japanese and was a clerk in General MacArthur’s Tokyo office. Every family near us had men and women in the service.
  Now we have to knock on over 150 doors in neighborhoods before we run into someone who knows someone in military service. Don’t go knocking on doors in the Hamptons, Grosse Pointe, Beverly Hills, Palm Beach, the capitol in D.C., or other exclusive ZIP codes to find relatives of military personnel. It’s useless. These ZIP codes employ the poor, foreigners, and the middle class to protect themselves, banksters, Wall Streeters, and the Best Congress Money Can Buy.
   Now we spend as much as the rest of the world combined to defend our country—but we have lost two wars in the last decade against countries that did not have an operative fighter plane, submarine, or destroyer. Why do we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Is it policy? Is it our military leadership? Is it lack of intelligence? (IQ, that is!)

Our Present Generals And Admirals:

Politicians Wearing Uniforms With Ribbons

   I have been a fan and reader of Thomas Ricks for many years. He has been covering the military by reporting and writing for Foreign Policy magazine, The Best Defense blog, and many influential newspapers. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He has just written a book about our military leaders called The Generals. Some of my information has been taken from his article “General Failure” in the November 2012 issue of The Atlantic. This is his introduction: “Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two.”
   In his article, Ricks concentrates on the generals who led our forces in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In comparing them to our WW II generals, he is not very kind. General David Petraeus, as an example, was number one in his class at West Point and was accepted into the pre-medical academic track, where only the top ten students were chosen. As an officer he attended most of the Army’s top schools, was number one in most of them, and won the General George C. Marshall Award. He then attended Princeton University for two years, earning a master’s and doctorate in international relations. He was promoted to full general although he had never had a combat command. President George W. Bush began to use Petraeus as his phantom crutch and walker in the Iraq War. So was born the Petraeus Doctrine on counter-insurgency.
   How a real bright guy like Petraeus could believe that his counter-insurgency plan could work in countries where tribes ruled instead of a central government boggles the mind. The Republicans said that at least they got rid of Badass Saddam in Iraq. They never realized they were creating another dozen badasses in getting rid of one. What did Petraeus accomplish in the Iraq War? With 30,000 more troops he quieted the country and allowed us to get out of Dodge/Baghdad as long as we were gone by sundown. Someone please tell me what we “won” in Iraq. Bombs are still going off in Iraqi cities almost every day as the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds still wrestle for power—as they have done for 1400 years.

Rudyard Kipling Should Have Been Required Reading For Afghanistan Leadership

  I get very angry every time I see a squad of my fellow Marines with 80-pound packs hanging onto some path on a 14,000-ft. mountain in some remote province in Afghanistan. Afghans don’t give a damn about their federal “government.” It is so corrupt in Kabul that government “workers” spend most of their time conducting and betting on cockfights. Sometimes as much as $25,000 is bet by individuals on a single cockfight. And that is our aid money going to waste.
   Many countries have tried to subdue the tribes. All have lost. Alexander the Great tried it and got his head handed him on a platter. The English were dumb enough to try it twice through the years of 1838-1880. The most powerful empire in the world couldn’t do it in forty years. If our presidents and generals had read Rudyard Kipling’s poems and stories about these wars and the tribes of Afghanistan, we would have stayed out if they had had any brains at all. The Russians tried to turn Afghans into Commies and lost 100,000 men and billions of dollars in military equipment in the attempt. The Russian general in charge told us in 2001, “You can bomb Afghanistan into a rock pile in a week—but if you stay for ten years you will crawl out on your belly with your tail between your legs.” I guess we thought we were smarter. In 2014, or hopefully sooner, we will crawl out with only our tails shot off.

We Have Too Many
General Dudley

   Perhaps you remember the not-very-bright Mountie Dudley Do-Right constantly failing to catch his nemesis Snidely Whiplash in the cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. Our forces in Afghanistan are like that. Among other amazing things, we are teaching the Afghans “how to fight.” My God, folks, every eight-year-old Afghan knows how to handle an AK-47 and they have never lost a war! We keep saying we have trained 350,000 “police” to control the country after we go. As soon as we escape Dodge/Baghdad, they will all return to their individual tribes, taking our equipment with them. By the way, the major tribes are made up of Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, and Bolochs. There are dozens of other minor ones squirreled away in the valleys and mountains in some of the most forbidding terrain in the world.
   General Petraeus devised the losing policy for Afghanistan. He has been called smart all of his life. I listened to a long interview of Thomas Ricks about his book on our generals on National Public Radio. The final question was about the most important thing he found out about Petraeus in all his research for his book. Ricks said, “Petraeus is not as smart as he thinks he is.” That’s deadly.
   Now that former CIA director Petreaus, complete with halo, has self-immolated after simmering hot sex with the cool North Dakotan Paula Broadwell, we know he failed the medical lesson that every public man has to learn: the male human body contains just enough blood to run the brain and the penis—but never at the same time. And judgment? What about his dallying with the famous Tampa twins who are cloned Kardashians, both married, who evidently sent provocative emails around the world to anyone who would help them build their own images? Another general, Marine John Allen, now the commander of our forces in Afghanistan, doesn’t understand the limited blood supply either. Whether his zipper has failed is not known yet.
   Petraeus always made an impressive appearance as he testified before Congressional committees. His uniforms were tailored to his very fit body, his four stars sparkled, and his seven rows of military ribbons on his chest almost ran over the shoulder. He was never involved with close combat, so all the ribbons just indicated where he had been assigned. Heck, I even have a “Shirley Freeway” ribbon. You got that if you survived a year on the freeway between Quantico Marine Base and D.C. I think there is another very telling character incident in his time spent among the power structure. He once showed up at a Washington party in a business suit—but he was wearing all of his medals. Now that action calls for a shrink.

Dick Cheney The
Willing To Turn Blood
Into Oil And Gold

  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have cost us 6,000 dead, more than 30,000 severely wounded we will be caring for for at least a half century, and more than $1,000,000,000,000 (that’s $1 trillion)—and we are not done yet! The damage done to the 300,000 veterans with brain damage and PTSD is incalculable.
  George W. Bush listened to Dick Cheney instead of Colin Powell about Iraq. Powell had a very good military doctrine. Go in with overwhelming force, kill enough for victory, and then declare victory and get the hell out. Cheney has never been interested in people. Personal draft deferments were more important than fighting for country. Oil was always more interesting and important than people. In all his political tenure, he never voted for Head Start. Cheney is an alchemist—always willing to trade someone else’s blood for oil and gold. Poor George was just too dumb and uninformed to catch on.

Kipling: “When You’re
Wounded And Left On
Afghanistan’s Plains...”

   West Point instructors and leadership are currently debating what we have accomplished so far in the two wars. Colonel Gian Gentile, director of West Point’s military history program, sums up his considered opinion in two words: “Not much.” A few generals and admirals gain wisdom before they lead troops in battle. But most are looking for promotion to ever higher posts. These are the politician-generals, not the war-generals. They should read Kipling before going to war: “If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white, remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight, and wait for supports like a soldier, wait, wait... When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains, an’ go to your Gawd like a soldier. Go, go, go like a soldier.” I think Petraeus and his generals should have thought a little more about saving their gonads before suggesting we could win these two wars.