Monday, November 19, 2012

Max Pushes Back

It  is good for people to try to find lessons in what happened to General Petraeus by his own hand - it dishonors the mistakes of others to not learn by them. We should discuss ... and there is no shame is having a giggle or eye-roll or two - always with a nod to the true suffering the families involved are under.

Sadly - some are using this as a chance to settle scores or to try to make points by going personal. The impeccably named Max Boot is having none of it;
The most unseemly aspect of the scandal surrounding David Petraeus is the gleeful Schadenfreude being exhibited by so many who are eager to kick a great man when he is temporarily down. One of the most egregious and nauseating examples is this New York Times op-ed by Lucian Truscott IV entitled “A Phony Hero for a Phony War.” It is insulting not only to Petraeus but to all those men and women who have served valiantly and at great risk in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Truscott is a West Point graduate with a famous name–his grandfather, Lucian Truscott Jr., was a notable general in World War II. Truscott IV, to judge by his preening description of himself, has rather less achievements to his name; he did not last long in the army and has made a career as a freelance writer and screenwriter, often sniping at the military establishment. He is apparently so in thrall to his grandfather and his contemporaries that he seems to think that no modern general can possibly measure up. “Iraq wasn’t a real war at all,” he sneers, which will come as news to the thousands of Americans killed there and the tens of thousands injured.
I search in vain for a serious point here. There is none. Rather this is sheer animus against Petraeus animated by runaway nostalgia for the Greatest Generation, which ignores the fact that most wars before and since World War II could not be ended by marching on the enemy’s capital to demand unconditional surrender. Where, after all, is the capital of the Taliban or al-Qaeda in Iraq? Petraeus and the troops under his command did extremely well in dealing with in dealing with a more diffuse enemy that could not simply be pounded into submission with massive firepower because he did not wear a uniform or control a well-defined territory.

“Guerrilla war is more intellectual than a bayonet charge,” T.E. Lawrence said. Petraeus was smart enough, dedicated enough, and capable enough to rise to the challenge of understanding and fighting that type of war. In the annals of counterinsurgency he is one of the all-time greats. Now, as payback for a lifetime of service, he gets insulted by sideline spitballers like Lucian Truscott IV.


Anonymous said...

I hope many of you gents will accept this homework: send your wife to a salon; buy her a new dress; send the kids to their aunt; take your wife to her favorite restaurant. Go to the BOQ with your bride and hang the -do not disturb- sign for the weekend. Rediscover your marriage and put it above your career.

If your not leading your family, you shouldn't think your troops are following you either.

This profession is important, but your family more so.

Brendan F. Ward said...

Some literary icon, that Truscott IV fellow...

Was his "Iliad" published by Chilton's? This legendary author spawned the famous literary narratives "If this Van's rockin' don't come a knockin'" and "Gas, Grass, or Ass nobody rides for free". Too funny--after a four page biography that has much more to do with his ancestors than with him, he is revealed to be the author of this audacious work of literary legend.

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