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Already some leading conservatives are criticizing President-elect
George W. Bush’s choice of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. Colin Powell as the next U.S. secretary of state.

I would have thought that, after the comedic yet dismal performance
of Madeleine Albright, anyone – up to and including Adam Sandler
– would have made a better secretary of state.

But apparently not, to some critics; Bush could have — and should
have — done better than Powell, some say.

The critics are grousing that Powell isn’t “global” enough — that he
opposed sending troops to Bosnia; wanted to get out of Kuwait without
pursuing Iraq’s troops into Baghdad; did not support the Somalia
nightmare; and has generally advocated any form of diplomacy other
than the use of U.S. military force. These critics say Powell will
advocate a more “isolationist” U.S. foreign policy.

Yes, well, if only Gen. Powell would do that, I’d be happy;
indeed, Bush focused nearly all of his campaign rhetoric involving
foreign policy on how he would reduce – not increase — U.S.
military participation worldwide, as part of his overall strategy to
revamp, rebuild, reinvigorate and retask America’s armed forces.

Not only that, but Powell — who spent 35-plus years in combat and in
uniform — sure as the world knows better the limitations of military
force when used to solve foreign policy problems than does an entire
gaggle of Yale-educated pinheads who have never worn a uniform, been
shot at, or commanded armies.

However, there is a much more mundane yet important reason why
I am hoping that the Bush-Cheney-Powell foreign policy team declines to
engage U.S. military forces against phantom enemies or place them in the
role of globocop, especially as often as the hapless Clinton
administration did — the military members and their families.

Better than I ever could ever explain this, here are some excerpts
from a letter I received via e-mail; while I can’t attribute it, I can
say with authenticity that I have received many like it in the
past half-dozen years:

“Over 23 years ago, I met the man I love and married him. He was an
individualist, with his life planned out for him. He was going to be
commissioned as an infantry officer and serve his nation, answering his
call.

“From his time in Boy Scouts, and later as an Eagle Scout, he never
had second doubts about service to our nation and its Constitution; they
were his bedrock, and the spread of democracy and equality his purpose.

“We first started dating when he was an ROTC cadet in Florida. I can
remember the harassment he received from the educators and students in
1977 for wearing his uniform on campus. Never did it bother my young
paratrooper that the University of South Florida allocated thousands to
the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (RCYB) and gay organizations
on campus, and then voted one dollar to the ROTC program for a bus
ticket to get the hell off of campus. He persevered because it was their
right under the Constitution to express their opinions.

“As a member of the ‘Green Machine,’ it was his duty and his oath to
this nation to protect these rights. When he first was commissioned in
1979, the military was recovering from Vietnam and had little public
support. His senior officers were Vietnam veterans who enforced mission
accomplishment and soldiers first. They instilled to their junior
leaders that the military always takes care of its own.

“Many times, the officers and senior NCOs spent money out of their
pockets to make sure the soldiers had things they needed. While they
trained hard and were always deployed ready to defend America,
recruitment and lack of qualified soldiers severely limited our
capabilities to defend our nation. Many of his soldiers could not speak
English and had families that were living below the poverty standard,
but he was always there for them.

“The Army was green and always took care of its own. When racial
riots broke out, or drugs were rampant in the barracks, he was always
the first one working with the soldiers or locking the criminals up. I
asked him why he was always the one to take care of the problems; he
would say proudly — soldiers trust me, they are all ‘green’ to me.

“As the years progressed, pride in the military soared and quality
young people came in by droves. Life was good; the military had adequate
funding for training, and it was the ‘Year of the Family.’ Our
leadership was true to their word and were finally taking care of the
soldiers with pay raises and quality of life improvements for their
families. The ‘Green Machine’ was ready to do anything and did. Grenada,
Panama, Desert Storm and Haiti; our military performed as true patriots
and the finest soldiers in the world.

“During Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo, the military continued
to perform, but something was happening; the ‘Green Machine’ was
fracturing. Our spouses were always deployed, not fighting our nation’s
wars, but taking care of our government’s failed diplomacy. I always
knew I was married to a warrior, but these ‘peacekeeping missions’ were
killing the units he served in.

“Many officers and soldiers were leaving when their time was up, and
the divorce rate in some units rocketed to over 70 percent. When asked
why they were leaving, numerous comments arose, from health care for
their families, to pay, to stress from multiple deployments, but the
largest common denominator was the lack of trust and disgust with the
leadership in Washington.

“While these soldiers were serving another holiday season away from
home, they would watch their Constitution slowly be destroyed from
within the halls of the White House. My soldier continued to serve
because his soldiers and the ‘Green Machine’ needed him.

“I’ve been a warrior’s wife for 23 years and a commander’s wife for
nine of those years. I’ve always supported him and shipped him out to
different combat zones and numerous other hell holes, even though my
heart was breaking. I’ve always been there when he returned and nursed
him back to health or helped him heal whenever he was broken; always
knowing he would be one of the first called to support the ‘Green
Machine’ on the next mission.

“While for today, he continues to soldier and serve this great
nation, the color of green has taken on another meaning; that of
disgust.

“It’s not about Monica, or the selling of America to the Chinese.
It’s not about election fraud, campaign finance violations, the selling
of the White House to the highest bidder, or placing personnel in
positions as Under Secretary of State only because their claim to fame
was getting rid of Monica. It’s not about appointing non-U.S. citizens
to ambassador positions because they contributed to the Clinton-Gore
re-election campaign. It’s not about human rights violations and torture
conducted by our supposed allies in the Middle East; that is most often
ignored by the administration and the media.

“It’s about

the U.S. president ordering the lowering of the
American flag on a U.S. naval warship at the request of the
Vietnamese
during a presidential visit in violation of U.S. military protocols and tradition.

“It’s about Al Gore providing instructions to his cronies

not to
allow deployed service members’ votes to count when possible.
It’s about political corruption and the complete disregard of our constitution, laws and citizens.

“It’s about being a native citizen of Florida and watching northern union officials and Democratic lackeys from Boston

enter his state
and attempt to change the state laws and results of the national
election.

“It’s about taking care of soldiers. Why, during this critical event, is the senior military leadership silent about service men and women’s absentee ballots?

“While my husband can’t openly protest or publicly support a candidate while in uniform, I can. It’s now my turn to fight for this country and its Constitution, and the rights of our soldiers. It is time to take our country back, and this can only be done by its citizens.

“This letter is for those who serve in uniform, but mostly for those who paid the ultimate price for freedom.”

This may be meaningless to millions of Americans, but Colin Powell understands — as does George W. Bush — what this military wife is saying. That’s why Gen. Powell is the best choice for secretary of state.

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