Archives‎ > ‎

Too Many Generals? from Clancy Sigal

Or, how many hostages to fortune has our candidate Hillary given to a bloated military bureaucracy
engaged in the Pentagon’s “long war”?
Clinton’s strategy is to build an anti-Trump coalition to include some pretty appalling people including absolutely
disgusting Iraq-war neocons, “death squad” John Negroponte who as our ambassador in Latin America covered up
if not promoted war crimes, Henry Kissinger (“who checks in with me regularly, sharing astute observations”) and
my favorite retired brass hats who guerrilla war expert Col. David Hackworth contemptuously called “perfumed princes”.
Normally I love a “popular front” to beat the Devil.
But there’s something about those generals on her platform that makes me wonder once she’s in the White House
who is really calling the shots?  All this talk about Hillary’s “muscular foreign policy” is code for more overseas
adventures that kill people ours and theirs.
Listen to full-throated, trigger-happy Marine general John Allen, past commander of U.S. Central Command
(recently accused by its own staff of lying about “progress” against terrorists), at Hillary’s side at the
Democratic convention.  “And to our enemies…we will pursue you as only America can.  You will fear us. 
And to ISIS and others, we will defeat you!”
The Democratic crowd roars, “USA! USA!” 
Have this general and those Democrats learned nothing? 
And I wonder who “the others” are in “to ISIS and others”?
Gosh, there are a lot of generals and admirals lining up behind Clinton.  (Douglass, Kendall, Eaton, McCaffrey, McPeak, it really adds up to battalion strength.)  Poor Donald only has embittered Gen. Michael Flynn who Obama fired as his top military spy in the Defense Intelligence Agency.
It’s at such puzzling moments I like to channel the ghosts of those great patriotic military dissenters,
Marine general Smedley Butler, Gen. Joe Stilwell, Col. Evan Carlson of Marine Raider fame,
Gen. David Shoup and Col. David Hackworth among too few others. 
Each in his turn was punished for speaking out.
Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor winner, is famous for blowing the whistle on his own country’s imperialist
adventures (“I was a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer,
a gangster for capitalism.”) Nearly court-martialled, he opposed bugle calls to send our troops beyond America’s three mile limit.
Joe Stilwell, who got fired for trying to make an honest man out of China’s corrupt nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek,
had no illusions about ambitious officers who skitter up the military’s greasy pole.  (“The higher a monkey climbs,
the more you see of his behind.”) 
Multi-wounded Evans Carlson, “father” of U.S. special operations, a military observer of Mao’s guerrillas in China,
shocked the Navy department by importing Communist “gung ho” egalitarian principles into the Marine Corps
snobby caste system.  Fellow officers labeled him a “Red”.
Carlson’s commanding officer, Gen. Shoup, defended him and became a critic of the Vietam war
only to be boycotted by fellow officers as “crazy”. 
Eight-times wounded Col. Hackworth, like Evans Carlson, enlisted as an underage private, fought in Korea and Vietnam,
created the “Tiger force” to “out-guerrilla the guerrillas”, and condemned George Bush’s Iraq invasion,
calling secretary of defense Rumsfeld an “asshole”.   
When Hillary gets into the White House she’ll need military dissenters like Butler, Carlson,  Stilwell, Shoup and Hackworth, not blowhard sycophants like Gen. Allen, to stop her from doing what a more cautious Obama calls stupid shit.