Col. David H. Hackworth, author of "Steel My Soldiers' Hearts," "Price of Honor" and "About Face," saw duty or reported as a sailor, soldier and military correspondent in nearly a dozen wars and conflicts -- from the end of World War II to the fights against international terrorism.More ↓Less ↑
The latest storm over Iraq may pass without a drop of rain, but keep
your umbrella handy. Saddam Hussein will be back with another storm before
you can say El Nino.
Serial monsters never change their M.O.’s.
The pundits will argue over who won this round, and Bill Clinton and
Saddam Hussein will both claim victory. But whatever the call, this latest
round was not our country’s finest hour.
Over the last five years Clinton and crew have performed like the gang
that couldn’t shoot straight, with a perfect record of blunders, called
bluffs, and wrongheaded uses of power.
Since 1993, Clinton has been allowed to use the U.S. military as though
it were a muscle-bound bully with an IQ to match his hat size. When it
comes to military matters, Clinton and his strategists haven’t done
anything right while simultaneously ignoring common sense and violating the
critical Principles of War that professional soldiers must live by if they
are to win.
Clinton and advisors are so incompetent that I’m surprised they didn’t
threaten to carpet-bomb Nevada when weapons of mass destruction were
reported there. Bombs over Nevada would have had the same results as the
planned bombing campaign on Iraq. Lots of craters in the sand, lots of
deaths, and the president’s ever-changing objective not achieved, because
no one knew where the bugs and germs were stashed.
A look at Clinton’s 1993-98 military adventure track record:
Somalia: 500 U.S. casualties, four billions bucks blown and in the end
we — the world’s last superpower — were booted out of that devastated
country by barefooted rebels. Then Clinton calling our losses “unfortunate
casualties,” provided the enemy commander with a U.S. airplane and a
security detail to keep him safe.
Haiti: he invaded that tormented island with 20,000 U.S. warriors,
huffed and puffed about cleaning up the place and making it right for
democracy. Now, $4 billion later and only months after our forces departed,
conditions have returned to the horror that existed before we went in.
Bosnia: we’re already in for $8 billion and the meter’s running at about
$2 billion a year. Our forces have been assigned an LAPD-type police
mission and could be stuck there for decades with a guaranteed catastrophe
awaiting the Bosnian people when the last U.S. soldier pulls out.
Iraq: since the end of Desert Storm, Iraq’s been an annual
billion-dollar-plus running sore. We’ve repeatedly bombed and deployed huge
forces which cost billions more with zilch results and then threatened to
bomb again each time Saddam acts up. After each crisis, the monster always
pops up from his bunker wearing a big smile while giving us the bird. This
last time Clinton really painted himself into a corner, but fortunately for
him the UN tossed him a face-saving rope.
These operations plus dozens of other Globo Robo Cop missions have been
mainly exercises in futility, bad for the grunts but good for corporate
America’s bottom line. They’ve flat broken our forces, which under Clinton
have been down-sized, right-sized, politi-sized and repeatedly forced to do
too much with too little. Each of these do-good operations, which have
nothing to do with our national security, takes money from training, new
equipment and spare parts budgets and have worn out our soldiers and their
Boxers lose their skill and sharp edge if not constantly in the ring
sparring and training. Warriors are the same. They’re not meant to be
policemen or traffic cops or customs inspectors.
When Saddam jumped out of his sand box last November our ground forces
were out of gas. So Clinton couldn’t do much but threaten to bomb — which
the last 50 years have shown doesn’t work without a force on the ground.
Congress needs to examine Clinton’s misuse of our forces and report to
the American people on the real state of our military readiness. We deserve
the truth. Those are our sons and daughters being put at high risk and our
tax dollars being wasted.
Last, but not least, the President should be stripped of any authority
to unilaterally declare war. War is too critical and too costly to be left
in the hands of Clinton and his fumblers.
Nothing is more dangerous than a draft dodger president with his own
Army and Navy. This latest flap with Saddam proved that again in spades. I
hope Congress swiftly disarms fumbling Bill Clinton, taking away his toys
and boys before he does any more damage to our armed forces. When it comes
to war-fighting that boy needs adult supervision, and he sure ain’t getting
any help from his incompetent — mainly fellow Vietnam War avoidees –
security team. I was particularly distressed to see the fawning performance
of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon last week. He
came off as a cheerleader rather than an All-The-Way Green Beret. Since he
is a new guy around all that power, I’ll hold judgment and write off his
seemingly sycophantic performance to a bad case of stage fright and having
a nerd for a speech writer.
I also hope Congress kicks ass and takes names during its Senate
military readiness hearings. The admirals and generals will swoop in with a
smoke screen and deploy a lot of mirrors, but I hear that the folks from
the committee have done their homework, and will nail the liars and get the
word out about how broken our military machine — active and reserve –
In last week’s Hack Notes I wrote “Politicians that gave the war a wide
miss while they hid in universities or disgraced our uniform by wearing it
in the safe shelter of the National Guard… “
Boy, oh boy, did the troops ever arc-light me. I caught flack from
generals to grunts. I was talking about the Vietnam War and I was not as
clear as I should have been. For which, I apologize. During the Vietnam
War, the Dan Quayles of this world used the Guard to duck getting shot at
I have too much respect for the Guard and know well that when the
balloon’s gone up, they’ve always stood tall. In Italy right after WWII, I
was trained by NG NCOs who’d fought in the 45th and 34th divisions. They
had more purple hearts than good sense and were total pros. Italy was
probably the toughest sustained fighting in WWII for U.S. troops. Tough
enemy, tough terrain and bad, bad weather.
Again, I apologize for the lack of clarity on my part.
While I’m on the Army Guard, let it be known that I am NOT a Guard
hater. And I swear I’ll never say “Weekend Warriors” again. I know there
are a lot of damn good people in the Guard. Unfortunately, I also know
there are a lot of political dudes who don’t carry their weight, and use
and abuse their positions in the Guard. As far as I’m concerned, they
should all be shot — or at least given the heave-ho. Bottom line is a loud
affirmative that, YES, we need the Guard, and our nation will be even more
dependent on it in the future. But, again, it must be radically reformed.
Keep five yards (an expression used by leaders on the battlefield to
make their people spread out). You know, “one round will get y’all.”
Flash Flash Flash
Former top presidential adviser Dick Morris recently commented on the
new movie “Wag the Dog”, in which an American President creates a small war
to distract attention from scandalous reports that he fondled a teen-age
White House visitor. His view seems to reflect the attitude toward combat
by those in the White House today:
“In the aftermath of the Olympic bombing and the assault on the American
base in Saudi Arabia, many of us at the White House longed for a clear
adversary against whom to demonstrate the President’s strength and
decisiveness. We didn’t in fact fabricate one as De Niro and Hoffman do in
the film, but that wasn’t because we didn’t want to. Unfortunately, neither
the FBI or the CIA could pin the blame on a bombable enemy. So our dreams
of a macho response went unfulfilled.”