What is it with most Marine generals? Do they get inoculated with double
shots of truth serum in boot camp? From two-time Congressional Medal of
Honor recipient Smedley Butler — who in the 1930s said, “War is a Racket”
– to the current crop, they sure know how to tell it like it is and don’t
sweat the fall out.
Recently, Marine Gen. Charles Wilhelm, head man for all our troops South
of the Rio Grande, told Congress our forces haven’t been able to tame the
natives in Haiti and the longer they’re stuck in that strife-torn swamp, the
more they’re at risk. He advocated yanking our troops and writing off the $6
billion “meals-on-wheels” mission as a failure.
That took a lot of guts, because the Clinton administration has been
crowing about what a splendid success the Haitian mission has been ever
since 20,000 American warriors invaded the place just after we got chased
out of Somalia. After six years of global miscalculation and fumbling, it
remains Clinton’s crown jewel — especially when compared to the catastrophe
that went down in Somalia and the running sores of Iraq and Bosnia.
Another tough-as-an-old-boot Marine general, Anthony Zinni, our military
commander in the Persian Gulf, has sharply criticized Clinton and his
national security gang that can’t get anything right for their flawed policy
to topple Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Clinton’s camp holds that Iraqi opposition
groups can toss Saddam out. Zinni flatly says Clinton’s plan is ill
conceived and could further destabilize the Gulf region.
In 1993, then Marine Commandant Carl Mundy took a shot at the crowd in
the White House who are doing their level best to turn American warriors
into “consideration-for-others” brainwashed Boy Scouts. Mundy said marriage
should be banned during a Marine’s first hitch. He took a lot of heat for
his stand, and his idea was spiked by White House and Pentagon
social-scientist civilians who think they know more about soldiering than
soldiers. He told me later, “Time will prove I’m right.” And it has.
The Marines are now outflanking the Clinton policy that’s caused a 40
percent divorce rate among first-term Marines.
When high-ranking Pentagon political appointee Sara Lister called Marines
“extremists,” the Marine commandant, Gen. Charles Krulak, fired back with a
stinging salvo: “Honor, courage and commitment are not extreme.” Lister
resigned in a firestorm a few days later.
Back during the horror of the Vietnam War, only retired Marine Gen. David
Shoup had the guts to tell Congress that Vietnam was a bad war and we
shouldn’t be there. What a difference it would have made had Congress had
the good sense to check out what Shoup, who earned the Congressional Medal
of Honor in the South Pacific during World War II, was saying instead of
listening to spinners like Army Gen. Maxwell Taylor and his White
House-scripted party line.
Now, as Kosovo boils on the front burner, NATO Gen. Wesley Clark, who’s
in charge of our troops in ex-Yugoslavia, is clearly the wrong guy for the
job. As with William Westmoreland during Vietnam, he’s a smooth, slick and
very political Army general with a track record for political expediency.
Back in the 1970s, Westy was looking at the Oval office, and Clark now
has his eye on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff job. Both generals,
masters in the political arena, don’t stack up when it comes to
boots-in-the-mud combat and standing up for the troops and telling it like
it is when the politicians do dumb things that put our soldiers and airmen
in dangerous places.
Clark, a Clinton pal from their Arkansas and Oxford days, has zoomed up
the promotion ladder light years ahead of his peers because of that
connection. He’s also the military architect of the quagmire in Bosnia,
where our serving soldiers are now referring to themselves as “Prisoners of
Rather than sitting around and allowing history to repeat itself, we
should insist on the appointment of a Marine general like Zinni, Wilhelm or
Kralak to run the show in ex-Yugoslavia. You could bet your boots — like it
or not — they’d tell the pure unvarnished truth instead of singing a
political tune like Clark’s that may soon turn into a Vietnam-like national