Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Feb. 26, 2004 / 4 Adar 5764

Bill Tammeus

Bill Tammeus
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Fort Leavenworth school plants seeds for democracy | LAWRENCE, Kan. — In 1998, the year after David Tevzadze finished his training as an international military student at Fort Leavenworth northeast of here, he became defense minister of Georgia, the former Soviet republic.

Last fall, all political hell broke loose in Georgia. Georgians — and Americans — can be grateful that Tevzadze understood, as he said at the peak of the chaos, that in democratic countries, "the armed forces are not a means to use in the intrapolitical struggle." So despite pressure from Georgia's embattled president, Eduard Shevardnadze, to send troops into the streets to punish protesters, Tevzadze insisted that "the army would not interfere."

Instead of a Tiananmen Square, the result was a swift and bloodless change that brought reformer Mikhail Saakashvili to power in the "rose revolution."

The Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth has been educating foreign military officers such as Tevzadze for 110 years. This year, the 6,500th officer to go through the program will be graduated. The officers, mostly majors or colonels, often go on to become generals. More than two dozen have become heads of state. And hundreds have reached the level of minister or ambassador, as did Tevzadze.

Democratic values are part of what these officers are exposed to here, both in their coursework and as they live off base. Many come from countries with long histories of open societies and civil institutions, so they learn not fundamental values but, rather, how those values get expressed in the American system. But some student soldiers come from countries that historically have been ruled by threat and force. What they begin to see here is a way of organizing society from the bottom up.

If democratic values are to spread around the world, it's crucial that military officers such as Tevzadze understand them and — more than that — put them into practice, especially when crises strike. The future of democratic reforms in many countries depends in part on how top military officers understand their role. Do they represent the citizenry or simply whoever is in power at the moment?

Recently, nearly 90 foreign officers from more than 75 nations, each now enrolled in the Fort Leavenworth program, came here to the University of Kansas to learn more about freedom of the press, a crucial pillar of open societies.

Donate to JWR

The morning began with an excellent lesson in how good information delivered in a timely way can prevent the cancer of rumor and secrets that often permeates countries without a free press.

One officer who was to be in Lawrence was missing. So Lt. Col. James F. Fain, chief of the international officer student division at Fort Leavenworth, announced to the troops that the missing officer, from Afghanistan, had been sent to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., to be treated for a skin condition common among soldiers in Afghanistan. It isn't life-threatening or contagious, Fain said, and this officer came to Kansas with the condition. He'd return in a week or two.

Tom Volek, associate professor of journalism, quickly pointed to Fain's announcement as an example of how good and timely facts can dispel misinformation and help people feel part of the process.

The way the American media do that is not transferable as a whole to all other countries. But the values it represents can be adopted elsewhere. They include: a press uncontrolled by government, the media as government watchdog, credibility as the media's foundation and the notion that information is power, so the more information the electorate has the better, with the obvious exception of legitimate state secrets.

Toward the end of the day, a dozen or so foreign officers divided up into three panels and held mock news conferences. KU students asked them questions.

The officers' answers reflected an appreciation of democratic institutions.

"I believe the media is part of the people and its role is to keep the people informed," said a lieutenant colonel from South America.

An emerging model of war places new importance on coalitions. Many of these foreign soldiers have peacekeeping and other experiences from which the American military can learn. If, in turn, their time here can help move them toward a commitment to democratic values, they some day may be in a position to follow the splendid example of David Tevzadze in Georgia.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Bill Tammeus' latest book is "A Gift of Meaning." To order it, please click on title. To comment on his column, please click here.

02/04/04: Renewing ourselves: Time with friends should be a source of emotional and spiritual sustenance
12/23/03: Next we must figure out Iran
12/16/03: Military protects a gentle, necessary freedom: Art
12/09/03: Connections echo through our lives
11/18/03: Remembering an era as it ends
09/18/03: Rock music appeals to fans' yearnings for mindlessness
09/11/03: The changes were not what the terrorists had in mind
08/14/03: Balancing fear and recklessness
08/07/03: Flatter-y will get you, uh, to Kansas
07/11/03: A desert saturated with life
07/03/03: America, and its ideals, still enchant
06/18/03: Through a looking glass darkly
06/10/03: Learn how to anticipate while remembering to savor today
05/23/03: Still lost for words at Ground Zero
05/08/03: Mustering robust   — if apathetic   — cheers
04/16/03: Worries of Iraq, illiteracy and the Cubs --- frazzled lives sabotage us
04/09/03: The genome triumph: Though it's laudable, DNA project won't tell life's secrets
03/25/03: In a wounded world, celebrate life's hope
03/20/03: Peace lover ponders the need for war
03/13/03: Science asks us to imagine a world in 11 dimensions
02/27/03: War has long come naturally to humankind
02/22/03: Trying to decipher the vexing French
02/11/03: A worthy crusade for individual worth
01/30/03: Indelible ache of Sept. 11
01/24/03: An issue of great gravity moves forward
01/17/03: Peculiar about being eccentric
01/10/03: Gambling infects with false hope
12/31/02: Quotable and notable in 2002
12/24/02: The faltering war on terrorism
12/11/02: Sky's the limit --- sort of
11/05/02: Thoughtful about uploading
10/29/02: We naively ignore the inevitability of death
10/24/02: Patriotism exceeds nationalism
09/18/02: Misuse of religion is timeless
08/21/02: Where church and state are one How long can Saudi Arabia's puritanical version of Islam survive?
08/13/02: LETTER FROM CAIRO: Meet the Egyptian writer who provided foundation for radical form of Islam
08/08/02: Letter from Riyadh: Moderate Muslims must reassert control over Islam
07/31/02: Journey of discovery starts at Ground Zero
06/07/02: Life rebukes death's power
05/31/02: Reasonable doubts about executions
05/10/02: Business savvy for graduates
05/02/02: Exporting our exclusivity
04/25/02: Life's stories carry messages about values
04/19/02: Our life force's search for fellow life forces
03/27/02: Can corporations behave ethically?
03/19/02: Space Family Robinsons
02/21/02: Lock, stocks and bonds
02/14/02: In space, the dark matters
02/07/02: Train doctors to have caring hands and hearts
01/31/02: A different feel to my life and to my country?
01/24/02: How green is my universe?
01/17/02: The end is near, eventually
01/08/02: Important lessons arrive out of the past
12/19/01: Lost in the cloning debate
12/10/01: It's all in the name: Unraveling the mystery of Osama's whereabouts
11/19/01: Flying with damaged trust
11/02/01: Recent, recognized research is a hard nut to crack
10/31/01: Many paradoxes in life
10/25/01: Newly found planets show the cosmos is still strange
10/19/01: Just getting caught up
10/17/01: It was a time for tea and sympathy
10/08/01: What makes an authentic patriot?
10/04/01: It's OK to twist and shout
09/17/01: One precious life among many
09/13/01: Remember who we are
09/11/01: Sometimes all children need is shelter from the storm
09/05/01: Couldn't run or throw, but a hero just the same
08/28/01: Lesson for the scientific faithful: Some theories come with strings attached
08/27/01: When waste in space is a waste of space
08/21/01: In complex world, we lack tools to carve out understanding
08/09/01: Visited while asleep by gang of magical mischief makers
08/03/01: Recognizing the limits of one's capacity
07/27/01: We are more than the sum of our work days
07/12/01: Some stars, like some people, never shine
07/11/01: Our deeply embedded need for order
07/03/01: Not-so-famous tour explores not-so-rich neighborhoods
06/28/01: Driven to tell the truth about golf and government
06/25/01: When poetry becomes destructive
06/21/01: We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a word from deep space
06/14/01: Theory of revolution explains why some things get lost
06/11/01: Shamanic gewgaws
06/06/01: Charity begins at homes with lemonade stands
05/30/01: When are wars worth dying in?
05/23/01: Cruising along that bumpy highway
05/09/01: If you're in the write mood, wish the U.S. happy birthday
05/07/01: Killing McVeigh will wound us all
05/01/01: Dubya reinforcing negative GOP stereotypes?


Reprinted by permission, The Kansas City Star, Copyright 2002. All rights reserved