Senator Kerry: Open mouth, smart-bomb foot
Let’s give U.S. Senator John Kerry the benefit of the doubt when he claims he was trying to make a joke about the intellect of President George W. Bush and was not trying to imply that the members of our all-volunteer force are stupid. But, as columnist Ann Coulter says, “Whatever Karl Rove is paying John Kerry to say stupid things, it’s worth every penny.”
Interestingly, Stanford University Professor, Thomas Sowell, points out that while both John Kerry and George W. Bush graduated from Yale; Bush earned a higher grade point average at Yale than Kerry. Moreover, Bush critic, Al Gore, ranked in the bottom 20-percent of his class at Harvard. For his part, George W. Bush went on from Yale to graduate from the Harvard Business School. So, who’s stupid?
But Senator Kerry’s most recent verbal gaff does serve to remind us of other things he has called our troops: Murderers, rapists and terrorizers of Iraqi women and children. And that’s just since 9/11.
In 1972, John Kerry wrote to an anti-war group saying that “a volunteer army would be the army of the poor and the black and the brown… and be more prone to the perpetration of war crimes.” Can you imagine the Sinistra Media firestorm if a conservative had made those kinds of racist, condescending statements about African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor?
Back when this observer served for a time in the Pentagon office that wrote the doctrine for the Modern Volunteer Army, our concern was not that the kind of men and women whom we hoped to attract would be stupid. Rather, our concern was that they would be so smart as to question the concept of civilian control of the military.
So, in that regard, John Kerry was prescient when he wrote in 1972: “a volunteer army with our present constitutional crisis takes accountability away from the president and puts the people further from control over military activities.”
Indeed, by the time Donald Rumsfeld returned to the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense in 2001, the Clinton years had so eroded the respect of the military for the concept of civilian control that Secretary Rumsfeld had to take some rather firm steps.
Rumsfeld began by reconfiguring the Joint Chiefs of Staff so, with one exception, every JCS member came from either ROTC or OCS. As a result, some who thought they “deserved” the top flag officer slots by virtue of their service academy pedigrees ran to Capitol Hill and to the media to whisper bad things about Rumsfeld. Those who didn’t like Rumsfeld’s idea of dozens of highly-mobile, combat brigades instead of a handful of harder-to-transport divisions opposed his reforms as well.
But the real shocker came when Rumsfeld selected a new Army Chief of Staff. Rumsfeld rejected the slate of serving general officers he was offered by the military establishment. Seeking a four-star general with a Special Operations background, Rumsfeld recalled to active duty a University of Wyoming ROTC graduate who had been retired for two years and made him the Army Chief of Staff.
That startling appointment was the signal by Secretary Rumsfeld, President Bush and Vice President Cheney (a former Secretary of Defense) that they were demanding a military transformed into a new, light, mobile, Special Operations force designed for the 21st Century rather than a tank- and artillery-heavy force designed to fight the former Cold War of the 20th Century.
While John Kerry was predicting, it is too bad that he did not predict that political correctness would, someday, place a female, reservist, brigadier general in charge of a prison camp in Baghdad where her failure to check the cells at night would allow a handful of redneck, sexual perverts to run amuck. But, instead of serving stockade time with the perverts, she was merely busted in rank.
But Senator Kerry is correct in one respect. You sure don’t see many Ivy League graduates serving in today’s military. Could that be because he applauds the banning of ROTC from Ivy League schools?
Retired Army officer and syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was named a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and is a former Research Fellow at the U.S. Army War College. Writing as William Penn, he is the co-author of two novels about terrorist attacks against the United States.
©2006. William Hamilton.