01 July 2008

The Company One Keeps, Part IV

After having his religious, business and foreign policy advisors examined – at least with some serious scrutiny in certain corners – it is not surprising that eventually some would come to question the military types who have become friends of the Obama campaign. Granted, these associations probably, almost certainly, do not have the long, deeply-rooted influence of, say, a Senator Obama / Mr. Wright relationship. Yet it is instructive, I believe, to take a look at the kinds of retired generals that Sen. Obama has invited to sit at his table: Wesley Clark and Merrill McPeak.

Mr. McPeak is probably less well known than Mr. Clark, whose 2004 presidential run was interesting in that it pitted two veterans against each other on the Democrat side. Mr. McPeak, was the Air Force Chief of Staff from October 1990 until October 1994. He is best remembered for doing two things: entrenching and expanding the influence of the fighter mafia at the cost of other Air Force specialties and changing the Air Force uniform into an airline pilot / Navy officer hybrid. One of those two went away when he retired. Mr. McPeak also, to the best of my knowledge, still advocates “decapitating” enemy leadership as a quick war-winning strategy. It is a strategy that sounds wonderful in theory. However it has been demonstrably difficult in practice; either such high-value targets are highly elusive (e.g. Saddam Hussein) or war-ending targets are specifically pushed off the table by leaders (e.g. Mr. Clark and NATO, Operation Allied Force). But the mindset of quick, (relatively) sterile victory fits in with the idea that the enemy can be coerced from afar by precision guided munitions, which is a pre-9/11 mindset that creates “victims” galore – real or otherwise – among those targeted.

The best quote I’ve read about Mr. Clark comes from National Review, where Jim Geraghty wrote in 2004: “Interviews with a wide variety of current and retired military officials reveal that Clark was disliked by only three groups: Those whom ranked above him in the chain of command whom he ignored, his peers at the same rank whom he lied to, and those serving beneath him whom he micromanaged.” The only flag officer I heard speak candidly about Mr. Clark and the operations over Serbia in 1999 had nothing good to say about him or his leadership techniques. Anyone who would like to know more about Mr. Clark is asked to read the above referenced article. It is a keen reminder of why Mr. Clark didn’t last long as a presidential candidate then and ought not advise politicians today.

I bring up these two gentlemen because as Sen. Obama trumpets his shining example of patriotism and bemoans anyone who questions it (which most do not), it is important to look at who he chooses now to surround himself with. These two former generals – both having earned four stars – may realistically be seen as centerpieces of those who would advise Mr. Obama if he were to be elected. They each represent another reason to not vote for Mr. Obama.

Post Script: For another point of view on this matter, see Ed Lasky's piece on American Thinker, where he looks more into the reasoning and money considerations of these two former generals.

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