October 29, 2007

See the world...

From Victor Davis Hansen's blog...

....I spent some time in Iraq accompanying Col. HR McMaster who was on an inspection tour of the forward operating bases. He is a UNC PhD, former Hoover Security fellow, and author of an acclaimed book, Dereliction of Duty, on (the lack of) military leadership during Vietnam, as well as one of Gen. Petraeus’s top counter-insurgency thinkers.

I could not imagine a tour (some 30-40 days I think he is on) that would pose more risks—humveeing and coptering into all sorts of places, regardless of the recent 24-hour conditions. Over the years, in Gulf War I, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, he has seen a number of close calls, and walks with a limp from an injured hip (probably will have to be replaced). Full body armor, pistol, and M-16 to lug around can’t help the pain.

I would watch him negotiate with Sunni governors, police chiefs, and generals, then be debriefed by Marine and Army officers, then go on tour in Humvees or foot patrols. This would start at 7 am and end at 8pm. Then after the long helicopter trip back to Camp Victory, HR would eat and join discussion with fellow Colonels until after 11 PM.

We often talk loosely of the idea of a renaissance man, but colonels like McMaster come closest—I would add another Colonel Chris Gibson—to the idea that I have ever come across.

Something is going on in Iraq entirely missed by media. It’s not just that things are turning around, but rather Gen. Petraeus has assembled perhaps the most gifted group of Army officers seen in a generation—who feel they are going to snatch victory from the jaws of political defeat. I think they will pull it off and the entire political landscape here at home will have to readjust to it by early next year. The smarter Democrats will take credit by claiming their anti-Bush efforts forced needed change, the denser ones will just continue to deny, like Sens. Reid and Schumer, that any good is occurring at all.....

Life has many frustrations, but there are also some sweet moments. The thought of what a bitter pill victory in Iraq is going to be to fraudulent liberals gives me a warm feeling in my tummy like a shot of whiskey!

Another charming thing is that there are so many things that are not what the received liberal wisdom says they are. I suspect that guys like Col. McMaster are not just gifted in relation to army officers of the past, but also in relation to certain people who imagine themselves as the highly-gifted elite....academics especially. The academic world is not looking very impressive these days, and I don't expect history to be kind to it. Same with the realms of journalism, the arts, and the whole bi-coastal arts-and-croissants crowd.

Related to this, one of the oddities of contemporary American life is that liberals preen themselves on being well-travelled because they've been trekking in Nepal or have gone on a photo-safari in Tanzania. But people who are really well-travelled, who know intimately some place you've never even heard of, are much more likely to be found in rural or small-town America! Those people join the military, or thye oil companies, or do missionary work, and they really "see the world."

Posted by John Weidner at October 29, 2007 5:22 PM
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