Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sunday Attention Grabbers

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson was Colin Powell's Chief of Staff when Powell was SecState. Today in The Baltimore Sun he writes:

"In January 2001, with the inauguration of George W. Bush as president, America set on a path to cease being good; America became a revolutionary nation, a radical republic. If our country continues on this path, it will cease to be great - as happened to all great powers before it, without exception."

I'm perfectly willing to accept that he believes this. I do as well. But the ringing question in my mind is this.

Is he Powell's proxy voice? It increasingly seems so to me. Former SecStates are constrained by convention, tradition as well as legislation. Former Chiefs of Staff are not.

As we get closer and closer to November it's going to be very interesting to see who Republican candidates invite to speak at their campaign events. Will it be members of the administration offering up their rhetoric or will it be dissenting Republican voices like Wilkerson's?

One of the other things that grabbed me today was reading, in a couple of places, that Vietnam was not lost on the ground but rather in Congress, on the university campuses, in the media and among the people. One of the places I read this today was in a US soldier's blog from Iraq. He/she mentioned that today's Generals were the Lieutenants and Captains of the Vietnam years and this was one of the things they learned from Vietnam.

If a meaningful US victory was possible in Vietnam, which I strongly doubt, would it have to have been a victory that was then acknowledged and celebrated "in Congress, on the university campuses, in the media and among the people" in order for it to have had military merit?

Or would it have been enough if the US military had been able to declare it a victory even if almost the entire rest of the country, if not the world, believed it to be a pointless, tragic, mindless debacle?

If the latter were true, and the opinions of Congress, the world, the people and so on were irrelevant to the considerations of the military, what would that mean to the robustness of the concept of civilian miltary control?

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