Is America Ready to go to War


The Clintons’ Military? ©


Gerald L. Atkinson

1 November 2002


It is clear that Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon has fashioned a striking success in the first phase of America’s War against Jihadistan, a loose network of Islamic terrorists of global reach. The use of Afghani Northern Alliance ground forces in conjunction with U.S. air power has resulted in an overwhelming victory in the destruction of the Taliban and al Qaeda training camps as well as the dispersal of al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. Special Operations Forces on the ground teamed with Navy and Air Force air power, using ‘smart’ bombs, broke the back of major armed resistance by the Taliban. The Marines established control of important airfields for U.S. military use. Ranger and Airborne units conducted ‘search and destroy’ missions throughout the cave complexes of northeastern Afghanistan which borders on Pakistan. The first battle in the War on Jihadistan was a resounding success.

The fact that al Qaeda terrorists are filtering back into Afghanistan from their Pashtun sanctuaries in the lawless northern territories of Pakistan is troublesome, but not for the military units listed above. The trouble resides in the prospect of maintaining an ‘occupation’ force, presumably an Army unit comprised mostly of Military Police and support personnel. This is the component of the Soviet Union armed forces that the Taliban was able to route in a guerrilla war during the 1980s. An American ‘Army of Occupation’ will fare no better. Presumably, Rumsfeld’s Pentagon will not make the same mistake as the Soviets. Consequently, the War Against Terrorism in Afghanistan should not present a huge American vulnerability.

The same cannot be said about a war, and subsequent ‘victory,’ against Iraq. James Webb, former Marine combat leader, assistant secretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, asks the prime question [1], “Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years?” He argues that “...American military leaders have been trying to bring a wider focus to the band of neoconservatives that began beating the war drums on Iraq before the dust had even settled on the World Trade Center. Despite the efforts of the neocons to shut them up or to dismiss them as unqualified to deal in policy issues, these leaders, both active-duty and retired, have been nearly unanimous in their concerns. Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long term occupation of Iraq? … America’s best military leaders know that they are accountable to history not only for how they fight wars, but also how they prevent them. The greatest victory of our time -- bringing an expansionist Soviet Union in from the cold while averting a nuclear holocaust — was accomplished not by an invasion but through decades of intense maneuvering and continuous operations. With respect to the situation in Iraq, they are conscious of two realities that seem to have been lost in the narrow debate about Saddam Hussein himself. The first reality is that wars have unintended consequences...the second is that long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world.”

Webb continues, “The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years. Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade and stay. This reality was the genesis of a rift that goes back to the Gulf War itself, when neoconservatives were vocal in their calls for ‘a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad.’ Their expectation is that the United States would not only change Iraq’s regime but also remain as a long-term occupation force in an attempt to reconstruct Iraqi society itself.”

After describing the inapt parallel between Japan in the aftermath of WWII and Iraq today, Webb cuts to the heart of the problem. “In Japan, American occupation forces quickly became 50,000 friends. In Iraq, they would quickly become 50,000 terrorist targets.”

In addition, according to Webb, “Nations such as China can only view the prospect of an American military consumed for the next generation by the turmoil of the Middle East as a glorious windfall...One should not take lightly the fact that China previously supported Libya, that Pakistan developed its nuclear capability with China’s unrelenting assistance and that the Chinese sponsored a coup attempt in Indonesia in 1965. An ‘American war’ with the Muslims, occupying the very seat of their civilization, would allow the Chinese to isolate the United States diplomatically as they furthered their own ambitions in South and Southeast Asia.”

Webb concludes, “These concerns, and others like them, are the reasons that many with long experience in U.S. national security issues remain unconvinced by the arguments for a unilateral invasion of Iraq. Unilateral wars designed to bring about regime change and a long-term occupation should be undertaken only when a nation’s existence is clearly at stake.”

Webb suggests that a long-term strategy — based on the Cold War containment of the Soviet Union — might be an appropriate response to the threat from Iraq. I am reminded of a recent briefing by U.S. Navy aviation planners to retired flag-rank officers on the ‘state of the naval aviation’ during which a question arose as to whether or not they had proposed a naval blockade of Iraq’s ports as part of a ‘containment’ strategy. The example comes to mind of ADM Thomas H. Moorer’s suggestion to President Nixon that he could free our POWs and bring the North Vietnamese to the negotiating table if he blockaded Haiphong Harbor and bombed Hanoi. Nixon did, and shortly after the Christmas bombing of Hanoi by B-52 bombers, our POWs were on their way home.

But this example was lost on today’s Navy brass (mostly naval flight officers vice pilots, by the way) who exclaimed that such a suggestion was far above their pay grade. I tell this story simply to illustrate that today’s military is, indeed, Clinton’s military. It is led by a generation of officers who capitulated to the radical, counter-culture initiatives forced on the military from above by the Clintons and their ‘cultural Marxist’ elites of the Boomer generation during the 1990s. It is a military whose leadership — from the top on down through mid-grade ranks — is dangerously weak. The dead wood must be cleaned from the forest and those with the ‘warrior spirit’ brought to the front to lead. The Clintons’ military will not be able to prevail in the aftermath of a ‘victory’ in a war with Iraq.

As Victor Davis Hanson, the noted historian of Greek antiquity, has predicted [2], “We’re also going to see a changing of the guard. In 1860 nobody knew who Ulysses S. Grant was – he was a grocer. George McClellan was a railroad president who made $10,000 a year. Sherman had been a failed ‘everything.’ Nathan Bedford Forrest was probably a thug – nobody thought he had any talent at all. And yet, in the crucible of war, they came forward as real talent. Same thing with George Patton in World War II. Same thing with Pershing in World War I. We are going to see people whose names we do not know who are going to step to the fore, men of genius and courage and women of genius and courage and the discredited voices of the past will fade.” Hanson has it just right, if the American people have the fortitude to preserve American civilization — the only surviving remnant of Western civilization — anchored in Greek/Roman antiquity.

Webb is not the only strategic thinker who questions the wisdom of engaging in a long-term occupation of Iraq. Bill Lind, a former congressional staffer to Senator Gary Hart and now an expert on Fourth Generation Warfare (guerrilla war), concludes that [3] “…[an] invasion of Iraq will be a strategic mistake with catastrophic consequences for the United States.” Lind argues that “...the U.S. is attempting to confront terrorism by applying ‘Second Generation’ warfare — essentially the application of firepower to targets — to a ‘Fourth Generation’ conflict.” Lind believes that “This is a fatal strategic error, because Fourth Generation conflict is war conducted outside the state structure by people whose primary loyalty is not to the state.”

“Mr. Lind notes that the American state itself may be beginning to come apart. Cultural Marxists [see my essay on America’s Indigenous Enemies Within and The Frankfurt School to learn who these people are] have successfully used multiculturalism and a de facto open immigration policy to create minority and ethnic loyalties that are stronger than those felt toward the American state. By adversely impacting our constitutional liberties, the various internal measures being implemented to counter terrorism can undermine even patriotic elements’ loyalty to the American state.”

Lind argues that “...our government’s strategy for dealing with resurgent Islam rests on little more than hubris. He cites the belief that the whole world wants to be like us (and would be if it weren’t for tyrants preventing them) and the belief that the U.S. is the only superpower and, thereby, the world’s policeman, if not an empire.”

The problem is that there are issues far more important than the academic/policy analysts’ discussions that have been made public so far. And these issues are not being discussed at all. They have to do with the fact that the Bush/Rumsfeld team is trying to fight the war against Jihadistan and will be fighting a future war with Iraq (and its occupation) with the Clintons/Cohen military, not a renewed and ‘re-warriored’ Bush/Rumsfeld military. One can see this, especially at the senior flag-rank level, by reading between the lines of articles in the nation’s major newspapers. The Rumsfeld defense team is not pleased with the high-level active-duty military leadership. And Rumsfeld is obviously attempting to clean out the ‘dead wood’ that has accumulated in these ranks over the eight long years of the Clintons’ co-presidency.

Republicans in the Senate are also voicing their concern, publicly, regarding the high-level active-duty military leadership. For example, Senator Trent Lott is now telling us that he has been known to [4] “...resort to a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting when things got bad, like in 1998 when the military’s combat readiness was slipping fast. ‘Gentlemen, you know our situation is subpar and deteriorating, and it’s happening on your watch and mine,’ the majority leader recalls saying in pivotal sessions.”

The Washington Times reminds us that “Spare-parts shortages, dips in retention and recruitment, and over-worked ships and planes all combined to create the worst military readiness rates since the years immediately following the Vietnam War. President Clinton was sending the military on a record number of wars and peacekeeping operations...while keeping the defense budget on a downward track.”

“In a recent interview on the state of today’s military, Mr. Lott says he remained skeptical four years ago that the chiefs would buck the Clinton White House. (After his retirement, one former chief said in an interview that he had been ‘chewed out’ by civilian political appointees for breaking ranks and testifying that the military was hurting.) The Mississippi Republican said he told the chiefs they should not waste Congress’ time if they would not testify frankly. I used to ask them, ‘Why do you guys put up with this...why don’t some of you resign?’”

Later, during the Fall of 1998 and into 1999, as Mr. Lott demanded, “...the chiefs delivered candid testimony on the same readiness problems they did not disclose in previous congressional appearances...The military, however still faces shortfalls. During strikes on Afghanistan, the Navy nearly ran out of kits to turn a ‘dumb’ bomb into a satellite-guided one. The Navy has fired two aircraft carrier commanders for running substandard ships.”

Of course, Senator Lott could just as well have reminded us of the failed leadership of the military brass to oppose the ‘social engineering’ changes imposed on the military during the Clintons’ reign. The feminization of the air combat arms and Navy combat ships, the open homosexualization of the military, the reduced training and qualification standards for women, the flawed affirmative action quotas for minorities (and women) and the imposition of mixed-sex training in Army basic training camps. All of these counter-culture changes in our military have done more harm to military readiness than all of the budgetary and equipment/training readiness shortfalls put together. But they will not show up as glaring vulnerabilities until it is too late. For example, during an extended ‘occupation’ of Iraq. Indeed, President Bush is stuck with the Clintons’ military in carrying out a war on Iraq.

In order to show just how bad that military milieu was during the Clinton years (and, presumably is today — there has been no large-scale ramping up of military readiness), an essay written in 1995 describes ‘Mother McGrory’s Military.’ It is the military fashioned over eight long years of the counter-culture revolutionary ‘reign’ of Bill and Hillary Clinton. You may read this essay at the link: Mother McGrory’s Military. Please do. It is a central part of understanding this essay.

Indeed, in the Clintons’ military, the brass accepted the views shoved down their throats by the Mother McGrorys (women and men) of the liberal left without resistance. With the exception of GEN Ronald Fogalman, USAF, not one resigned in protest. In fact, many (including ADM Jeremy ‘Mike’ Boorda, the Navy’s first CNO to commit suicide on active duty) eagerly carried out the destructive agenda of the power elites of the Boomer generation who came to power during the 1990s. And they watched in wonderment as their young junior officers and enlisted men voted on their timidity with their feet — they walked.

And now we are to wonder(?) as veteran Washington syndicated columnists inform us that the new Republican Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld is, according to Robert Novak [5] “...keeping [the Clintons’ generals] on the sidelines” as he contemplates war plans against Iraq. Novak reports that “...Rumsfeld [works] with a small circle of both official and unofficial advisers, fostering concern among career officers that plans are not being sufficiently reviewed by expert military opinion.”

“To his credit, Rumsfeld has attempted to toughen up the officer corps, softened by standards of political correctness during the eight Clinton years…[but the brass are disappointed that] Rumsfeld’s inclination [is] to make decisions within a restricted circle.” This disappointment has reached the stage of a seething [6] “...pronounced civilian-military divide at the Pentagon under Rumsfeld’s leadership. Of course, most of this divide is between Rumsfeld and the three-and-four-star general and flag-rank officers appointed to their positions by President Clinton. These are the senior officers appointed by the politicians under the Clinton umbrella who not only saluted and carried out the ‘socialization’ of the armed forces, but many became firm proponents of such change. A military led by such officers is not up to the task of winning the War against Jihadistan. And Rumsfeld knows it. That is why many of these officers are being shut out of high-level deliberations.

According to Loeb and Ricks, “[Rumsfeld’s] disputes with parts of top brass involve style, the conduct of military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and sharply different views about how and whether to ‘transform’ today’s armed forces. But what the fights boil down to is civilian control of a defense establishment that Rumsfeld is said to believe had become too independent and risk-averse during eight years under President Bill Clinton. What makes this more than a bureaucratic dispute, however, is that it is influencing the Pentagon’s internal debate over a possible invasion of Iraq, with some officers questioning whether their concerns about the dangers of urban warfare and other aspects of a potential conflict are being sufficiently weighed — or dismissed as typical military risk aversion.”

Loeb and Ricks report that Rumsfeld has “...two dominant priorities. The first is reshaping the U.S. military from a heavy, industrial-age force designed in the Cold War to an agile, information-age force capable of defeating more elusive adversaries anywhere on the globe. Rumsfeld’s second priority, about which he has been less open, is reasserting civilian control over a military establishment that had grown autonomous — and, many believe, too cautious — during the Clinton years. Indeed, Rumsfeld has pushed throughout the war on terrorism for bolder plans from the military. Under his stewardship, war planning has become far more effective and imaginative…”

It is instructive to analyze Loeb and Ricks’ treatment of “Rumsfeld’s primary objective of reasserting civilian control over the Pentagon. [It has] been in reining in a Joint Staff that the defense secretary, according to associates, believed had become too powerful and independent of civilian control, with officers acting at times as though they were not subordinate to their civilian bosses….Rumsfeld has made it clear that, [while] the [military ] Joint Staff works for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his Pentagon, the chairman works for him...Rumsfeld, early on, tried to gain control over the key position of director of the Joint Staff, the person who helps determine the daily agenda of the U.S. military leadership. When his move to oust the incumbent met opposition, he backed down. But he succeeded in making the point that the defense secretary would be intimately involved in deciding who filled the top positions.” It is becoming abundantly clear that Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, is ‘cleaning the dead wood out of the forest’ as Victor Davis Hanson reminds us is a necessity when Western civilizations go to war after a prolonged period of peace. He is bent on ridding the military services of the residue that was left over as the Clintons purged the warriors and those with the ‘warrior spirit’ during the 1990s. He is starting at the top and working his way down the command structure.

At the moment, Rumsfeld is “...working to strip the Joint Staff of a series of its offices — legislative liaison, legal counsel and public affairs. These have given the military leadership a degree of autonomy by providing it direct pipelines to Congress, to other parts of the government and to the media.” And, of course, the civilian counterpart of these branches in the Pentagon were the conduit through which Hillary Clinton staffed the Pentagon with radical feminist lawyers, academics, and anti-military activists during the 1990s. They were the conduit through which the ‘socialization’ of the U.S. military was carried out by the middle-aged ‘foot soldiers’ of their counter-culture revolution — started in their young adult years in the 1960s and to be completed as they came to power in the 1990s. It was through these branches that the penultimate American institution, the armed forces, would be ‘transformed’ into a vehicle for social change that knew no bound. And, of course, the Joint Chiefs built up a parallel network of legislative liaison, legal counsel and public affairs branches during the Clintons’ administration — each speaking with the authority of the Joint Chiefs (all Clinton picks) in implementing their part of the revolution. Call it the Clintons’ Revolution in Military Affairs (CRMA) if you will. Hillary Clinton and her minions would see to it that the nation’s military would, indeed, become Mother McGrory’s Army. An Army wherein only 37 percent of its females believe its primary function is to fight and win America’s wars. An Army in which barely 56 percent of its men believe that is its primary function. An Army completely unsuited for a long-term occupation of Iraq or any other foreign nation. Unable and unwilling to fight and incapable of winning a serious war with a formidable opponent. An Army that can’t fight and won’t fight!

And now we see that Donald Rumsfeld is not only ‘cleaning out’ the socialist ‘dead wood’ from the civilian staff at the Pentagon but he is stripping the Joint Chiefs of their parallel conduit to the outside through the legislative liaison, legal counsel and public affairs branches. Indeed, this Secretary of Defense is attempting to reverse the damage done to the military institution over the eight long years of the Clintons’ administration.

Loeb and Ricks claim that “The biggest battle facing Rumsfeld is with the Army...which effectively has gone into opposition against the secretary of defense. The Army, for institutional and historical reasons, is the most skeptical of the services of Rumsfeld’s drive to move the military into the information age. Rumsfeld has complained that the Army is too resistant to change, while Army officers claim the defense secretary does not sufficiently appreciate the value of large, armored conventional ground forces...The relationship, never close, hit the rocks when Rumsfeld let it be known...that he had decided to [replace the Chief of Staff], Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, 15 months before he was scheduled to retire. This immediately made Shinseki a lame duck and undercut his ambitious ‘transformation’ agenda, which he had set forth in late 1999 [under President Clinton].”

Of course, this is nothing more than proof that Rumsfeld is continuing his ‘house cleaning,’ starting with the service chiefs. It was Shinseki’s brainstorm to ‘give’ the revered black beret, the symbol of Ranger excellence, to EVERYONE in the Army. As a sop, he allowed the Rangers to have their ‘own’ beret — an ordinary tan colored beret. To add insult to injury, Shinseki arranged to have all of the berets manufactured in China, a potential enemy. This caused such a mass demonstration of opposition by Army Rangers (some active-duty soldiers marching from the Carolinas to Washington, D.C.), both active-duty and retired that it became a laughing-stock of inept and gutless high-level military leadership. Indeed, Secretary Rumsfeld appears to be a student of Victor Davis Hanson’s counsel on why the West has been victorious in its wars with other civilizations.

There is a great deal of discussion in the Loeb and Ricks’ article about the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 and the resulting ‘jointness’ requirements for the services which make up our armed forces. What is not reported directly is that the new Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is essentially violating that law (or at a minimum, violating its intent). Rumsfeld is turning Goldwater-Nichols on its head because it is a flawed concept and should be superceded. This is becoming apparent in the War against Jihadistan and, especially, in an armed conflict with Iraq. Rumsfeld has seen this flaw and has taken direct action to cut through to the heart of the matter and (using old fashioned ‘Yankee ingenuity’) put it right.

This is exactly what America did during World War II. And it did it ad hoc, using ingenuity and knowledge of military capabilities (in all of its multi-service specialties), all organized by military leaders and carried out with common sense and dispatch. Military operational commands were established. Tough leaders were chosen who could ‘get the job done.’ And, as ADM Moorer has said in the aftermath of Goldwater-Nichols, the chairman of the Joint Staff previously had the same ‘power’ and responsibilities as he inherited under that Act. All it did was emasculate the respective service chiefs to the detriment of ‘innovation’ and ‘alternative views’ for consideration of the Secretary of Defense and the President. Obviously, Rumsfeld is acting to right the potentially disastrous aspect of Goldwater-Nichols. America’s response to state-sponsored terrorism of global reach demands this action. It is required in our planning to eliminate Iraq as a threat to America’s vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction.

Loeb and Ricks inform us that “Since Rumsfeld’s first tour as defense secretary in th emid-1970s, the Joint Staff has grown enormously in power and capability...after the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act greatly empowered the chairman, making him the formal leader of the Joint Chiefs and explicitly the principal military adviser to the president, the staff began getting the best the services had to offer, in part because that law barred officers lacking ‘Joint’ time from becoming top generals or admirals.”

That is not, however, the whole story. Nor is it the most important part of the ‘Jointness’ story. James Kitfield’s book [7], ‘Prodigal Soldiers,’ touts the Goldwater-Nichols Act as a glorious congressional achievement in laying the groundwork for the success in winning the Persian Gulf War in 1991 against Iraq. “Though the bill was complex beyond the understanding of all but Congress’s most devoted defense experts, the unmistakable thrust was in the direction of more ‘jointness.’ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the only member not dual-hatted as chief of a military service, would become the principal uniformed adviser to the secretary of defense and the president. Commands to and requests from the unified CINCs (regional operational ‘unified’ commanders) were to be channeled through the chairman, essentially putting him directly in the operational chain of command.”

According to Kitfield, “The Joint Staff of well over a thousand officers was to be under the exclusive direction of the chairman...and representing a fundamental shift in power within the Pentagon from the massive service staffs to the chairman’s Joint staff. Service in a joint assignment, either on the Joint Staff or elsewhere, would be necessary for promotion to flag or general rank and thus a required stepping-stone for the services’ best officers. A joint curriculum was to be established at each of the services’ Command and Staff Colleges and War Colleges, and officers would be required to complete a joint-duty assignment following graduation.” And therein was the unintended consequence that laid the foundation for the mass exodus of young officers from all branches of the armed forces during the late-1990s.

Officers who had risen to their first command (for example a Navy carrier aviation squadron) during the years after Goldwater-Nichols arrived with as much or more ‘joint’ (read ‘staff’) time as they had in the cockpit of their fighter, attack, or other type combat aircraft. Indeed, ‘jointness’ rendered them ‘paper warriors’ with limited ‘combat’ training and/or experience — even at such an advanced stage in their career. Consequently, many arrived with so little total (and almost no recent) cockpit time that they were not sufficiently proficient to be safe, much less able to lead a band of ‘warriors.’ This occurred routinely in spite of the excellent Fleet Replacement Squadron ‘refresher’ training before reporting to their new command. This had a deleterious effect on the young Lieutenants Junior Grade and Lieutenants (those with six or more years — including the training command — of such rigorous, concentrated training and current experience during their first squadron tour). They could see for themselves the deleterious effects of ‘jointness,’ which became a buzzword for the ‘ticket-punching careerists’ — their senior (mid-level) ‘leaders.’ Projecting their career into the future, based on what they saw in their more senior leaders, the young ‘warriors’ walked. They voted with their feet and left the Navy.

Goldwater-Nichols and its ‘jointness’ mandate led to ‘ticket-punching careerism.’ This ‘ticket-punching careerism’ was openly admitted during the mid-1990s. In my first book [8], ‘The New Totalitarians,’ I described this linkage in the following way: “Another insidious practice has invaded the U.S. military establishment since the Vietnam War. That is 'ticket-punching' careerism. This practice has gradually invaded our armed forces at all levels. It is probably another factor in the rash of fatal and other catastrophic accidents experienced in naval aviation over the past several years [1994-1996]. This practice, along with the practice which reduced aviation training and qualification standards, are working together to destroy naval aviation. 'Ticket-punching careerism' can be summarized as setting the nominal career path for every naval aviator on a track to 'be the future Chief of Naval Operations.' Many 'old-timers' in the U.S. Navy attribute the spread of this phenomenon [9] to the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This act set requirements [10] for 'joint duty' assignments, in which officers must be assigned to and work for a multi-service or multi-national commander in chief to get joint-duty credit. This credit became required for an officer to advance to Flag rank. The philosophy behind this act holds that every naval officer be channeled through a multitude of various management and staff billets; as staffers in the Pentagon to interact with civilians, politicians and other 'non-flying' joint-service entities. Positions as Aides to important military and civilian personages and on joint staffs of the same entities became prized and cultivated as 'stepping stones' to Flag and subsequent four-star rank. Every naval line officer competes along this path. Unfortunately, the vast amount of time required to fulfill these non-flying requirements decreases the time actually spent in the 'cockpit,' gaining the experience required to be a competent naval combat aviator. This has resulted in more than a few cases of relatively inexperienced, thus aviation-challenged, senior officers assigned to combat aviation squadrons in the Navy.”

“The Goldwater-Nichols Act [11] strengthened the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and mandated numerous changes intended to increase 'jointness' in the armed services. The Chairman of the JCS was given much broader powers. Not only is he now the primary military advisor to the President, he is also responsible for furnishing strategic direction to the armed forces, strategic and contingency planning, establishing budget priorities, and developing joint doctrine for all four services [12]. The law also mandated that 'joint' duty be a requirement for promotion to Flag rank [13]. This act facilitates development of senior military cliques which transcend service lines. Many praised Goldwater-Nichols as the source of success in the Gulf War [14][15]. But the Gulf War was not a true test of either Goldwater-Nichols or 'joint' warfare. About all that conflict demonstrated was that poorly trained and miserably led conscript armies left unprotected from air attack cannot hold terrain in the face of a modern ground assault [16].”

“Indeed, Goldwater-Nichols has had unintended consequences. Anecdotal evidence [17] exists of senior naval aviators arriving for their tour as the commanding officer of a combat squadron with so little flying experience that they were dangerous to themselves and to the other pilots in the squadron. Their arrival has been met with disdain by the young 'fighter jocks' in the squadron who prize and respect competence based on past flying experience. Under these circumstances, morale plummets. These commanding officers had spent much of their career 'punching tickets' in the hierarchical 'non-flying' jobs required on the nominal career path to four-stars and Chief of Naval Operations. Consequently, we may be seeing numerous senior Lieutenant Commanders and even Lieutenants who have been assigned primarily to 'non-flying' 'career-enhancing' billets who are increasingly less-competent, marginal aviators, and safety-of-flight risks who eventually lead to fleet-wide 'stand downs.' Add to this the practice of lowering training and qualification standards for accepting marginal female fighter pilots and others into combat squadrons, and you have a disaster in the making. The Navy is in the middle stages of experiencing such a meltdown. The practice of 'ticket punching careerism,' described above, has been carried out slowly but relentlessly in our armed forces over a time period of several decades. This insidious practice has become so commonplace that we no longer recognize it as a possible factor in the Navy's current [circa-1994] problems with catastrophic aviation accidents.”

Unfortunately, Clinton’s civilian leadership in the Pentagon promoted the concept of 'ticket-punching careerism.' A New York Times reporter observed that [18] "While opening doors in some fields, the Cold War's demise has meant smaller forces and fewer opportunities over all. Career paths are more competitive for young officers who need to punch the right ticket at the right time in a system that is less straightforward and far less forgiving than it was a decade ago...'If you don't hit gates when they swing open, you may never get a chance to do it again.' said one Navy commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity...In today's grudgingly politically correct military, an officer's record on opening opportunities for women also counts toward promotion...By the time an officer reaches general or admiral, politics and talent figure equally in promotions."

“ADM Stanley Arthur, former Vice Chief of Naval Operations, told us that this attitude has infested the officer corps even down to the lowest rank [19]. ‘When we were Ensigns, we did not plan a path to Flag rank. We thought that making Lieutenant Junior Grade was a huge step up. If we made that grade, we would be happy. To think of making Lieutenant was beyond our imaginations. It is a different Navy now. Ensigns now ask 'How do I make Flag rank?’ So, now we have a military which is so fixated on their 'career' that their basic purpose, to fight our nation's wars, is subordinated to the personal pursuit of 'career.' It is clear that 'civilianizing' and 'feminizing' the U.S. military is leading to the kind of military leadership that will be incapable of inspiring 'warriors' to lay down their lives for their unit and their country. We are tending toward a military armed force which will not fight! Ticket-punching careerism is a major reason for this rot. And Goldwater-Nichols has been a major contributor to it.”

It is clear to those who have observed military affairs from the ranks of those who ‘won their spurs’ in World War II and served as senior flag-rank officers during the Cold War that Rumsfeld is not only ‘cleaning out the dead wood’ from the forest of post-Cold War peacetime, but is setting Golwater-Nichols on its head. This is a good thing. According to The Washington Times [20], “When Rumsfeld took over in early 2001, he saw a department that was bureaucratically deadlocked. Micromanagement by Congress was also to blame for some of the resistance to change. For years, the services had struck a truce [under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] and divided the budget less on joint operational needs and more along lines that minimized bureaucratic turf fights.” Obviously, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was the mediator in these turf fights during the Clintons administration, leaving the Secretary of Defense, Richard Cohen free to spend his time galavanting with his media-star wife around Hollywood at DoD expense [21]. But the world was changed by the Islamic terrorist attack on 9-11. Acording to the times, “Mr. Rumsfeld was determined to break this mold.” And so he has — with a sledgehammer.

And that is a good thing. ADM Thomas Moorer is given ‘credit’ in Kitfield’s book [22] for opposing the Goldwater-Nichols Act during the congressional fight over its enactment. Since the book is written in lavish praise of this Act, Moorer’s role is displayed (as is the entire Navy role) in an entirely negative light. It reports Moorer’s advice, “Adm. Thomas Moorer also spoke [during a crucial meeting of Senate Armed Services Committee], and Nixon’s former JCS chairman just as predictably obstreperously opposed nearly all the suggestions in the report [which led to enactment of law].” It turns out that, in the context of the current war against state-sponsored terrorism, ADM Moorer was entirely correct. The unintended consequences of the Goldwater-Nichols Act are impeding America’s efforts to prevail in this struggle. In addition to the unintended consequence of ‘de-warrioring’ our armed forces, Goldwater-Nichols has led to a narrowness of focus that eliminates reasonable options that are available for handling Iraq that cannot surface from the depths of the services’ unique capabilities under the ‘muffling’ hand of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Indeed, Rumsfeld wishes to get beyond the ‘unimaginative, overly cautious, and risk-averse’ mind-set of the Clintons’ flag and general officers who now comprise the service chiefs and the Joint Staff.

One example of the ‘narrowness of focus’ of the Joint Staff is the obsession with ‘new’ modes and models of warfare, while completely neglecting those low-technology options that have worked in the past, is that of a naval blockade of Iraq as part of a ‘containment’ strategy. It is entirely possible to stop the flow of oil from Iraq by a naval blockade. It is also possible to destroy Saddam Hussein’s sites suspected of researching, producing, and storing weapons of mass destruction — without resort to a ground force invasion of Iraq. The U.S. has the military means of accomplishing these actions. Concerns of our European allies over their supply of oil from Iraq can best be handled by refusing, for example, to expend American blood for French energy needs. Diplomatic and military means are available to carry out such a strategy. One is reminded of ADM Moorer’s advice to President Nixon to mine the Haiphong harbor and bomb Hanoi to gain via force what was not forthcoming by diplomatic means. This advice proved successful in not only the hasty return of our POWs, but a move to the bargaining table to end the conflict. Saddam Hussein would be ‘long gone’ if such a strategy were applied to Iraq. The signal to the rest of the fanatic Muslim world, including the problematic Wahabbi [23] religious movement promoted by the Saudis in the U.S. and around the world would be profound.

One is reminded of a story concerning the role of Senator John Warner, a player in the debate on the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the mid-80s. According to Kitfield [24], “John Warner could have been cast by Hollywood to play the part of the Virginia gentleman who had made it to the U.S. Senate with his courtly manners intact. In Washington, he was far better known for his affable personality and for being married to Elizabeth Taylor than for his intellect. His reputation in that department suffered from Warner’s occasional lapses into cliché-ridden pomposity. Nor had his service as secretary of the navy under Richard Nixon left any question in where his true sympathies lay [with the Navy’s opposition to the proposed Bill].”

“Watching Warner return to the Committee with another batch of ready amendments [to water down the Bill], Goldwater was reminded of a dinner party he had attended at Warner’s impressive horse farm out in hunt country near Middleburg, Virginia. Elizabeth Taylor had stood up and started in on a seemingly endless political speech that was embarrassing her husband. Rolling his eyes, Warner had asked Goldwater to try to get her to quiet down. At which point Barry Goldwater had walked up to Elizabeth Taylor, whacked her on the ass, and told her to sit the hell down.”

Maybe that is what Bush/Rumsfeld should do to Saddam Hussein!

James Fallows, an elite Boomer who has written extensively about Asia, its economy and power in the world, has turned his attention to the Middle East. His essay in the November 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly asks the question, “The Fifty-First State?: The inevitable aftermath of victory in Iraq.” He states that [25] “Going to war with Iraq would mean shouldering all the responsibilities of an occupying power the moment victory was achieved. These would include running the economy, keeping domestic peace, and protecting Iraq’s borders — and doing it all for years, or perhaps decades.” He then asks the 64-dollar question, “Are we ready for this long-term relationship?”

Fallows assumed, as has everyone who has given any thought to the matter, that even alone, U.S. forces would win a war against Iraq. “The victory might be slower than in the last war against Iraq, and it would certainly cost more American lives. But in the end U.S. tanks, attack airplanes, precision-guided bombs, special-operations forces, and other assets would crush the Iraqi military. The combat phase of the war would be over when the United States destroyed Saddam Hussein’s control over Iraq’s government, armed forces, and stockpile of weapons.” But, Fallows asks, “What then?”

This is precisely the question addressed in this essay. America has absolutely no experience in managing, protecting, and controlling an Empire — and that is precisely where we are heading unless we use our heads. That is the mistake other world powers have made in extending their vision past that which encompasses the burdens that their people are willing to shoulder. I am reminded that the ancient Greek empire expanded beyond its means to control the unintended consequences of its expansion.

Will Durant summarizes the decline and fall of ancient Greek democracy [26]. "The death of Greek democracy was both a violent and a natural death, in which the fatal agents were the organic disorders of the system; the sword of Macedon merely added the final blow. The city-state had proved incapable of solving the problems of government: it had failed to preserve order within, and defense without; had discovered no way of reconciling local autonomy with national stability and power; and its love of liberty had seldom interfered with its passion for empire. The class war had become bitter beyond control, and had turned democracy into a contest in legislative looting. The Assembly, a noble body in its better days, had degenerated into a mob hating all superiority, rejecting all restraint, ruthless before weakness but cringing before power, voting itself every favor, and taxing property to the point of crushing initiative, industry, and thrift. Philip, Alexander, and Antipater did not destroy Greek freedom; it had destroyed itself; and the order that they forged preserved for centuries longer, and disseminated through Egypt and the East, a civilization that might otherwise have died of its own tyrannous anarchy...The weakness and smallness of the state in Greece had been a boon to the individual, if not in body, certainly in soul; that freedom, costly though it was, had generated the achievements of the Greek mind. Individualism in the end destroys the group, but in the interim it stimulates personality, mental exploration, and artistic creation. Greek democracy was corrupt and incompetent, and had to die."

The unintended consequence of the Greek passion for ‘Empire’ was the enslavement of formerly free citizens who lost their property to the heavy taxation that was required to maintain a professional army that could control its expanding empire. The citizenry thus lost the zeal to support the polis. In the end, there were as many Greek mercenaries fighting against Alexander the Great as there were Greeks in his army. And the end came swiftly. The Greek empire vanished [27] within a 53-year period to the Romans as a result of the slow but steady decay of their civilization from within, a complete dissolution into chaos.

America faces a similar temptation. See my review of the book, Empire (at this link). It describes a socialist/Marxist world evolving from the dominance of multi-national corporations in the era of free trade, the Internet, and the free flow of capital across national borders. This book was written by an Italian Marxist who has been involved in the terrorist movement in Italy for the past three decades and a young Harvard professor. It is their view of the direction that ‘globalization’ will take and the world’s Marxists’ plans for ‘hijacking’ this enterprise for the glory of world-wide socialism.

Fallows interviewed spies, Arabist, oil-company officials, diplomats, scholars, policy experts, and many active-duty and retired soldiers. They were from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. His article is a detailed account of all of the factors that would have to be considered in the occupation of Iraq. Without summarizing his ten pages of detail, most of it placing the occupation in a negative light, Fallows ruminates between the darkly negative view and the height of idealistic optimism of ‘bringing democracy’ to the people of Iraq — a fabulous vision in the view of a retired Air Force general officer. Fallows concludes that such an occupation would undoubtedly be intimate and would be of long duration.

Fallows’ final conclusion is that “It has become a cliché in popular writing about the natural world that small disturbances to complex systems can have unpredictably large effects. The world of nations is perhaps not quite as intricate as the natural world, but it certainly holds the potential for great surprise. Merely itemizing the foreseeable effects of a war with Iraq suggests reverberations that would be felt for decades. If we can judge from past wars, the effects we can’t imagine when the fighting begins will prove to be the ones that matter most.”

Fallows’ conclusion is anything but a cliché. It is, in fact, founded on a basic science — chaos theory. It is fitting that he concludes his discussion with reference to the ‘science of surprise,’ one in which unintended consequences are to be expected. I have described this science and how it is applicable to American civilization — including its foreign policy aspects — in some detail. See the essay at the link Chaos Theory and the Fourth Turning. It will have direct application in the events surrounding America’s ‘occupation’ of Iraq. Stay tuned!



1) Webb, James, “Heading for Trouble: Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years?” The Washington Post, 4 September 2002.

2) Hanson, Victor Davis, ‘Mythologies about the Terrorist Attack on America,’ C-Span TV, 5:00 p.m., 30 September 2001.

3) Roberts, Paul Craig, “Blinded by hubris?” The Washington Times, 4 August 2002.

4) Scarborough, Rowan, “Lott takes off gloves with Pentagon brass,” The Washington Times, 14 October 2002.

5) Novak, Robert D., “Generals on the Sidelines,” The Washington Post, 14 October 2002.

6) Loeb, Vernon, and Ricks, Thomas E., “Rumsfeld’s Style, Goals Strain Ties In Pentagon ‘Transformation’ Effort Spawns Issues of Control,” The Washington Post, 16 October 2002.

7) Kitfield, James, “Prodigal Soldiers: How the Generation of Officers Born of Vietnam Revolutionized the American Style of War,” pp. 296, Simon & Schuster, 1995.

8) Atkinson, Gerald L., “The New Totalitarians: Bosnia as a Mirror of America’s Future,” Atkinson Associates Press, 1996.

9) Hill, C.A., RADM, USN, (Retired), "Phone conversation," 8 April 1996. 'This act insisted on a single military Chief of Staff, that is, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the sole advisor to the President on military matters. Prior to the passage of this act, each service chief had direct access to the President. While this act improved the 'efficiency' of the advisory process, its implementation required that junior officers up the chain of command be exposed to blocks of experience on 'joint staffs,' while accumulating the necessary 'joint duty' so that they could 'work in harmony' with their brethren in their sister military services. These requirements resulted in naval aviators, in particular, with less and less fleet aviation flying and 'combat training.' Finally, in the words of ADM Thomas H. Moorer, "This made it impossible to have a 'fighting' Chief of Naval Operations.'" No longer would it be possible to have a 'warrior' advise the President. Military bureaucrats would inherit this duty. The advice would have large 'public image,' 'personality,' and 'political' components, rather than hard-headed advice based on 'first-hand' operational military experience.

10) Adelsberger, Bernard J., "Credit for joint duty changing," NAVY TIMES, 12 February 1996.

11) Public Law 99.433, U.S. Code, 1986.

12) Luttwak, Edward and Koehl, Stuart L., Editors, "The Dictionary of Modern War," pp. 320, Harper Collins, 1996.

13) Davis, Vincent, "Defense Reorganization and National Security," The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science," pp. 163-165, September 1991.

14) Editorial, "Persian Gulf War's Unsung Hero," Charleston, SC News & Courier, 4 April 1991.

15) Nunn, Sam, "Military Reform Paved Way for Gulf Triumph," Atlanta Constitution, 31 March 1991.

16) Dunlap, Charles J., Jr., "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012," Parameters, the U.S. Army War College Quarterly, Vol. XXII, No. 4, Winter 1992-1993.

17) Anonymous retired Flag Officer in the U.S. Navy, "Private conversation," March 1996. These stories, circulated among retired naval officers, arise from private conversations they have had with their sons who have experienced, first hand, the events described here. The retired officers are hesitant to reveal their identity for fear that they will adversely impact the careers of their sons. The important fact, however, is that a son is a very reliable source of inside information. Why would a son lie to his father about such situations? Their tradition is to serve a Navy that they love.

18) Schmitt, Eric, "Reaching for the Stars in the New Military," The New York Times, 4 September 1994.

19) Arthur, Stanley, ADM USN (retired), "Demiliarization of the Military, Part II," Speech before the Defense Forum Foundation, The Rayburn House Office Building, 31 May 1996.

20) Ullman, Harlan, “Press on, Don, press on: Rumsfeld is the right man to drive the military,” The Washington Times, 18 October 2002.

21) “Cohen and Wife Squander $300,000 from Defense Budget on Hollywood ‘Party’ while GIs Still Need Food Stamps to Survive,” Military, http:/

22) Ibid, Kitfield, James, “Prodigal Soldiers,” pp. 292.

23) Yourish, Karen, “Wahhabism: A Brief History, NEWSWEEK, pp. 33, 30 September 2002. “Fueled by petrodollars, the Saudis have spent billions since the 1970s to export their fundamentalist brand of Islam to the United States. A primer of the philosophy: 1700s Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab establishes an austere form of Islam that preaches a literal reading of the Qur’an. He joins forces with a local ruler, Muhammad bin Saud, to conquer Arabia and excise looser interpretations of Islam. 1803: The Wahhabis take control of Mecca, challenging the Ottomans sultan’s claim to the guardianship of the holy sites. They capture Medina the following year. 1811: The turks dispatch Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali to overthrow the Wahhabis and reinstate Ottoman sovereignty. He succeeds. With Wahhabi help, Ibn Saud recaptures Riyadh. Modern Saudi Arabia is founded in 1932. Wahhabism is the official religion. 1981: Islamic extremists use Wahhbist ideals to justify acts of violence like the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. 2002: U.S. officials pay close attention to Saudi-funded American mosques that may be spreading Wahhbism.

24) Ibid, Kitfield, James, pp. 293.

25) Fallows, James, “The Fifty-First State?: The inevitable aftermath of victory in Iraq,” The Atlantic Monthly, pp. 53, November 2002.

26) Durant, Will, "The Story of Civilization, Volume II, The Life of Greece," pp. 554, Simon & Schuster, 1939 and 1966.

27) Ibid, pp. 659.


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