Jewish World Review June 30, 2010 / 18 Tamuz 5770
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
By Paul Greenberg
There is something achingly sad about the way
The commanding general of American and allied forces in
But mainly the general showed a disregard for just plain common sense. There are unwritten rules that should govern the conduct of an officer and gentleman. The general may be an expert tactician, but he should have known better than to go drinking-and-dining, with the emphasis on the former, with a reporter for Rolling Stone, which proceeded to roll right over him. What was he thinking -- or was he?
Quite aside from any military manual, the general would have done well to consult the Book of Proverbs: Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
His staff came across as equally well lubricated and even more loose-lipped, which is no excuse for his conduct but a further indictment, for the commander sets the tone of any outfit.
You'd think at least one of his subordinates would have served him better -- by having the courage and grace to warn him he was asking for trouble. Mainly for himself. That's another rule the general should have remembered: A commander is responsible for everything his unit does or fails to do. But his staff failed him, which means he failed to exercise leadership.
But let us now praise famous men, specifically
As for the general, justice demands that the country he served so long remember that he did more than have a night out in
General McChrystal, during the tumultuous five years he headed the Joint Special Operations Command, made it a key factor in the ultimate American success in
For an assessment of the general's military achievements, let us turn to
"His command center -- a vast open hall resembling the floor of a trading exchange -- put long-haired civilian geeks next to wiry commandos, and together they uncovered, analyzed, pooled and acted on information that enabled soldiers to launch successful operations at a moment's notice. They did so in ways that only a few years ago would have required weeks of preparation and rehearsal. He is one of the fathers of victory in
A master of stealth warfare and remarkable coordinator of mixed talents, it was his troops who tracked down
It can be a dirty job, counterinsurgency, but
The professor who may be the country's leading student of military leadership --
For even when Gen. McChrystal was doing so much to assure an American victory in a crucial war, there were questions raised about his adherence to the rules. He was suspected of using torture to obtain needed intelligence and covering up the truth about the death of football hero
Pattons and Custers may cut corners to accomplish their mission, but it would be as unfair to forget their remarkable achievements as it would have been to let them get away with breaking the rules.
So let us wish the general well on his now less than voluntary retirement, bid him farewell more in sadness than anger, and in a final salute remember not just how he left the service but all he did in it.
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© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.