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Presidents and Generals

MacArthur and McChrystal. Clark and Ridgeway. Algerian and French birthrates. Sean Penn and Hugo Chavez. Ben Stein and BP, and more!


Re: Jeffrey Lord's MacArthur Defeats Truman: The Real McChrystal Message:

A nit and a riposte to Jeffrey Lord’s interesting comparison of Truman-MacArthur to Obama-McChrystal....

The nit: It was Gen. Matthew Ridgeway whom Truman sent to replace MacArthur in April 1951, not Mark Clark--who succeeded Ridgeway two years later, and signed the cease-fire in 1953.

The riposte: May I suggest that McChrystal is not MacArthur, and Afghanistan is not Korea? Our country in those palmy days was all behind victory in Korea. Barely half of us are for winning in Afghanistan. What the two situations have in common is insubordination of a commander to his civilian chief -- and on those merits Obama like Truman will inevitably be judged right. Undoubtedly, to many in the military, the Administration is not up to the job. But there are right ways and wrong ways to express that, and spewing frustration to left-wing journals who wish only for retreat is the wrong way.

I am writing a piece comparing this to Churchill sacking Wavell and Auchinleck from the Middle East Command in 1941-42 -- even more of a stretch, since all three had high regard for each other. The most striking comparison there is how our standards have deteriorated.

Wavell and Auchinleck, as Churchill wrote, placed themselves "at the disposal of His Majesty's Government." They continued to serve honorably as soldiers or statesman until their postwar retirement.

Apparently the President offered no alternative appointment to McChrystal, as Churchill did with Wavell and Auchinleck.

We must assume it was not Obama's opinion, as it was Churchill's, that "We cannot afford to lose such a man from the fighting line." So McChrystal is expected to leave the Army, have a lucrative speaking tour, write a book with a hefty advance, and perhaps go into politics. (If the last, he might reflect on what happened to candidate MacArthur.)

The lessons taught by Churchill, Wavell and Auchinleck about loyalty to one's chief, and to one's country, remind us that standards once taken for granted are now almost extinct. Perhaps General McChrystal will defy the odds, but the circumstances of his dismissal give us nothing to rejoice over.
-- Richard M. Langworth CBE
Moultonborough, New Hampshire

Jeffrey Lord replies:
Richard Langworth is right about the nit....It was Ridgeway first, then Clark. I sped to the end without stopping to explain Ridgeway first.

As to the clanger, I would disagree. The comparison here is not McChrystal to MacArthur. While I suppose it's arguable, I think the era of great astride-the-globe generals ended with World War II. No one since (other than MacArthur in Korea) in any conflict comes close, in my mind, to the giants that were MacArthur, Ike, Patton, Marshall, Bradley etc.

The comparison I was focusing on was not Korea and Afghanistan, but the battle against Communism and Islamic fundamentalism in general. The first struggle lasted from the 1940s to the 1990s. The second, actively operative post-9/11, is a bare 9 years old. Like the first, it has its peace movements and pacifists. It will ebb and flow. But I do believe that every time an "incident" occurs attention concentrates -- and surrendering to Islamic fundamentalists under those circumstances is never on the table. Certainly the idea of electing any majority of Americans perceived as willing to surrender to those who wish to impose sharia, keep women uneducated, and essentially convert the country into an Islamic fiefdom where gays are executed etc. is just not in the political cards. While a modern McGovern or McCarthy (Gene) can and surely will win elections from time to time under these circumstances today, as with the Cold War, no one who campaigns in a fashion in which they are perceived by all as urging surrender will ever win an election that has any significance. Even Obama is sending the drones.

Alas, I do think we have a loyalty problem in today's culture. Something to work on.

As some Englishman once said: "Never give in. Never, never, never, never..."

An inspiration beyond compare.

Re: Jeffrey Lord's MacArthur Defeats Truman: The Real McChrystal Message:

On website's page 2: "Truman's appointment of another heroic World War II general, Mark Clark -- the David Petraeus of his day -- to take MacArthur's place in Korea, did nothing to halt the sea-change in American politics that the MacArthur removal signaled."

Gen. Matthew Ridgeway replaced MacArthur in April 1951. Gen. Mark Clark later replaced Ridgeway. Minor correction, but noteworthy because Ridgeway repaired much of the damage MacArthur had wrought by ignoring the possibility of Chinese entrance into the war, which got a lot of US troops killed.
-- Kenneth Moore
Huntsville, Alabama

Jeffrey Lord, one of the TAS columnists whose work I most  trust, blew it on the subject of MacArthur.

MacArthur was sacked because, first, he publicly denigrated the decision of his Commander in Chief and the government of the United States of America, and, second, publicly insisted on his plan to invade Communist China and to use nuclear weapons in the process.

Mr. Lord does not mention either of these facts, which should put MacArthur into proper perspective, and clearly would delineate the difference between his "sin" and McChrystal's.

MacArthur was also "playing politics" while serving in the United States military -- an absolute no-no -- as he maneuvered to get himself  nominated for president.

On the other hand, McChrystal used bad judgment in dealing with the media and allowing his staff to do so.

MacArthur's "sin" was to violate one of the fundamental principles of our country -- that the military must remain the servant of the civilian government, which is the servant of the people.

He wanted to replace the considered judgment of the civilian government that it was unwise to start a war with Communist China -- really madness of the highest order -- and to use nuclear weapons on
top of it.

"Dougout Doug" was an arrogant braying [critter], whose true reputation is only now becoming public knowledge.

Please catch up, Mr. Lord.
-- A. C. Santore

And this is why the progressives want to rewrite history -- so that MacArthur will not be able to continue defeating Truman!
-- Sharon I. Rideout

Re: W. James Antle, III.'s Obama Cracks Down:

Great article you guys are dead on. Now two points that may seem overly easy or just ridiculous: 

1) Why can't Arizona just sue the Federal Government for lost finances due to negligence on its part?


2) Since the Federal government has neither the will nor the backbone to enforce Federal law why not then just write some legislation that that simply removes the Law and lets anybody come here on their own free will? That is basically what we have now?

I know these both sound silly but they work either way you want it. Just food for thought. Keep up the good work you guys do.
-- Tom Dobrucky

With the lawsuit against Arizona and the Coast Guard action against Louisiana's oil spill countermeasures, as well as the disdainful treatment of our allies (Great Britain, Israel, Poland, Honduras, etc.) and overtures to the nation's enemies and adversaries (Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, etc.), the demonstrated trend is for vigorous action, not against threats to American sovereignty and security, but against those who seek to protect American sovereignty and security. We are seeing that the left does believe in American exceptionalism, they just believe that America is exceptionally evil and are happy to destroy her.
-- Mike Harris
MAJ, US Army

Speaking of "goes too far," cracks-downer Obama's got lots of wars going on now, doesn't he?

Iraq. Afghanistan. Against Arizona. Against the Constitution. Against the U.S. economy. Against the Gulf of Mexico ecology and environment. Against the people who depend on the Gulf for their living. Against fossil fuels, but especially coal and oil. Against capitalism. Against Rush Limbaugh and all conservative talk radio. Against legal immigrants. Against U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). Against the United Kingdom. Against Israel.

But his nonsense with Arizona, coupled with his ineptitude with the BP-related oil spill and his outright mendacity regarding Obamacare, show that, yet once again, Obama "goes too far" with the train wreck called his presidency.
-- C. Kenna Amos Jr.

Re: Roger Kaplan's Saving France:

With regard to your comments about de Gaulle and the loss of Algeria, Raymond Aron had offered a succinct analysis of the Algerian problem at the very beginning of the disorders there. Native Algerians were not citizens, but "French subjects," lacking the franchise and other marks of citizenship. Full citizenship had been considered a number of times and had failed passage for a variety of reasons. In an article in l'Express in the earlier 1950s, Aron described the insoluble difficulty in making the Arabs French citizens. Very simply, the problem was demographics.

French population in the metropole was less than 50 million at the time. There were almost 10 million Arabs in Algeria. As Aron argued, granting the franchise to the Algerians would create a bloc that would be able to control Parliament simply because of its solid voting. Moreover, because the Algerian birth rate was increasing as the French birth rate was falling, the influence of Algeria would only increase over time. Aron believed, and probably correctly, that the Algerians would always vote as a bloc and use that power as the king maker in French politics. This power, Aron argued, would be incompatible of France's history and of the interests of metropolitan France.

Note that today Algeria's population is about 35 million and metropolitan France is about 62 million. Painful as it was, de Gaulle's decision to leave Algeria was the only real choice that France had.
-- William L. Roughton, Jr.

Re: Mark Tooley's Seminary Smorgasbord:

Claremont is sure to produce a booming crop of atheists as well -- a new accomplishment for a seminary.
-- Noel Anderson


Re: Ben Stein's The Elephant and the Obama Question:

This was hilarious. Brilliant, brilliant satire. Thanks for the laugh!
-- Future Vision

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Concern at Home and Abroad:

'The wages of sin is death.'

The wages of the media not vetting an unknown presidential candidate is Obama.
-- James

Re: Robert P. Kirchhoefer's Hugo Boss:

The only thing that makes sense is that Chavez bad-mouthed our president in our country, and these latter-day hippies, some of whom worshipped Manson, love "a cause." Aside from that, these overpaid, under-talented trolls, whose only ideas for films these days seem to be comic-book heroes, need to be considered for the frauds they truly are, and not seeing their sub-standard movies, is a good start. I recommend foreign films, many of which actually have a theme, and are well-acted to boot! I don't think the American version of Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with Brad Pitt as a Swedish journalist, will come close to the Swedish film.
-- Bob Mandraccia

Re: Ben Stein's Our Caudillo President:

"Of course, every President tries "jawboning" to restrain steel company price increases or something similar.."

Not every action requires a law, or government intervention. That's the power of negotiation for voluntary cooperation toward a common, win-win objective. Win for BP: concerns are allayed that, when it stops making business sense for BP to continue spending money on the project, it will just cash in its chips and go home. BP gets to demonstrate its commitment to doing right by those damaged by the spill. Win for the public: There will be enough money, administered by an independent party, to pay claims of damages. In the long run, BP's decisions are good for all but those of its investors interested in short term gains.
-- Jim

As usual, Mr. Stein cuts through the emotional fog of an issue and sees the long-term Constitutional consequences of political imprudence and folly. What has happened to adherence to the Constitution? It is not a document from which one can selectively cherry-pick or ignore as it suits one's whims. It applies to all in all cases and for all time.

I hear and see both liberals and conservatives applauding Obama's shakedown of BP, and with BP transferring assets, it might prove the only way to protect Gulf environs' chances for timely compensation, but Obama's rapid fire extra-constitutional actions are frightening. I would rather see the Gulf of Mexico turned into a sludge pond than see the Constitution destroyed.
-- Mike Steele
Midway, Georgia

Re: Ron Ross's Ignorance Is Liberal Bliss:

Absolutely brilliant!
-- Bob Stange

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