G2mil--December 2001 (Offsite link: http://www.g2mil.com/Dec2001Letters.htm)
G2mil Too Harsh
I find that I agree with much you write, BUT have a serious problem with your "stance". Using terms like "Submarine mobsters" to describe senior military officers can only lower your credibility with the very people you wish to influence. Your audience (the choir) delights in your use of these terms, but I fear the typical influential leader will put your material aside without getting your information BECAUSE you use these terms. You may have excellent reason for disagreeing with Senator McCain, but when you call him an idiot, you lose the ability to defeat him in debate and will be far less likely to substitute your ideas for his in the public's mind.
I spent 23 years in the military. Of course, a significant portion of this time I had no meaningful contact with decision makers, BUT eventually, I came into peripheral contact with the level of power you discuss in your articles. I saw something completely different than you report in your pages. Yes, from time to time I did see cynicism and self-serving behavior. On the other hand, from my own personal experience I can reliably report that most senior military leaders are men of honor and integrity. They have put nation above personal needs. Under no circumstances are they "mobsters" as you characterize them. The worst accusation that can be made is that they sometimes demonstrate a parochial interest in their specific part of the service.
What you are saying is IMPORTANT. The public needs to understand the less obvious motivations that drive our military and political leaders. You accomplish this in open, honest debate that captures the public imagination, NOT in sophomoric slinging of incendiary personal potshots at influential leaders. Attack the idea, not the person.
Robert G. Williscroft, PhD
Ed. Most of my cynicism is focused on the post-Cold War US military which has become a different animal. When the "war" ended, these organizations refused to adjust to peacetime and cut their budgets in half, but sought to involve the USA in every conflict possible. Next year's military budget (approved before the 9-11 attacks) is larger than Rumsfeld had during his first tour back in the Cold war 1970's, even after adjusting for inflation. The major military fighting in our current terrorist war is almost over, but our huge military, now backed by 50,000 reservists, plans for a huge budget increase beyond Cold war levels. I fear that political momentum for a bigger war will build because our conventional military is "all dressed up with nowhere to go".
There is tremendous waste and no one cares. For example, those four Ohio class subs were marked for decommissioning back in 1993, but they are still in service. Meanwhile, the Navy claims it lacks fund to pay full VHA, fix housing, or provide excellent medical care. Who was responsible for that waste of one billion dollars? Now those four unneeded subs must be retired because there is no way Congress would approve expensive refuelings, so they worked up a new scheme (and bypassed Congressional oversight by labeling it as "anti-terrorist" funding) to make them Tomahawk missile launchers, the last thing our Navy needs. I suggest you do some investigative reporting and find out why those subs were not decommissioned back in 1993, and which highly-respected honorable officers are responsible for this waste. I know that calling them "mobsters" will make them angry, but it should make them reflect upon why the operate like mobsters.
You are right, Senator McCain is not an arrogant idiot. I was angry at his public criticism of the President during a war and his foolish demand to send in ground troops immediately. Through the miracle of the Internet, I changed that sentence to "arrogant grandstander". McCain is no idiot. When he came back from Vietnam, he found his faithful wife confined to a wheelchair because of a serious auto accident. He quickly dumped her and married the daughter of a very wealthy beer distributor, who was 15 years younger, and used her money to run for Congress.