Jewish World Review April 4, 2013/ 24 Nissan, 5773
The general and me/ Dept. of Rebuttals and Ruminations
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear Critic,
It was wholly a pleasure to receive your inquiry -- or was it more of a dare? -- asking if I intend to answer
I have refrained from responding to the general for the same reason sportsmen devised that rule about sitting ducks.
But your question is fair enough, and now that the Lord hath delivered him into my hands, it would seem less than grateful if I didn't respond to the general's personally challenging me by name -- "Paul, what say you?"
I'd say I had no idea the general and I were on a first-name basis.
I'd say I'm grateful to him for giving me so much grist for today's column.
I'd say that over the past decade I must have written tens of thousands of words about
I'd say that much of what I wrote about the war in
I'd say the war in
Being shaken awake by events can be a sobering experience. But a
I'd say the late great
I'd say that, for examples of Ambassador Kennan's thesis, see the divisive debates on the home front in the midst of the Korean War, and, more recently, the rancorous political atmosphere in this country before the Surge turned the tide of war in
I'd say that by largely ignoring
I'd say that war is a well established disease endemic to and inseparable from the human species. And any student of it should strive, like Hippocrates, to trace its familiar course from first intimation to crisis to resolution -- happy or sad, cure or death. History, certainly military history, is pathography. But there will always be those who, like General Clark, contend that war can be avoided without risking any consequences, some of them even more adverse.
I'd say General Clark's approach to the war in
I'd say the great simplifiers of the world, whether the Malcolm Gladwells of journalism's whirl or the Wesley Clarks of the think tank/academic/MSNBC world, would have a point if only the world were simple.
I'd say I cannot honestly apologize for having supported the Surge in
I'd say that the general was scarcely alone in his assessment of the Surge at the time. His was almost conventional wisdom. It was certainly echoed by various Democratic luminaries, including a future secretary of state named
I'd say that, to our president's credit, he would later adopt much the same strategy in
I'd say I wish I could be as certain about only a few things as General Clark is about so many, including what would have happened if
I'd say it is a tragedy when constancy of purpose in American foreign policy is replaced by ad-hoc "resets," vision by expedience, decision by delay, and the principled course by the politically popular.
I'd say it is a rare if not miraculous gift to be able to rewind history and see so clearly what would have happened if we hadn't stopped
I'd say I don't miss
I'd say Gen. Clark's judgments tend to be more bold than trustworthy.
I'd say I've said more than enough for today.
I'd say that on balance I prefer the attitude of another general -- an ancient one named Thucydides, whose history of the Peloponnesian War has yet to be equaled, and who observed at one point that "ignorance is bold, and knowledge is reserved."
But what would I know, being only an
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