19 October 2010

Men are not angels

For those who didn't pick up on the title of this post, it is a reference to a post from last week entitled "If Men Were Angels". That post's title and most of its content were shamelessly lifted from an article of the same name which itself gets the phrase from James Madison's writing in Federalist No. 51. The same day on which that article was posted, news of an excerpt from a book by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Clinton and then Bush, General Hugh Shelton, hit the Interwebs. This news was unfortunately buried by virtue of its coming out on a Friday.

In the book, the general relates a story of a conversation he had with a Clinton cabinet member during one of their weekly breakfasts.
At one of my very first breakfasts, while Berger and Cohen were engaged in a sidebar discussion down at one end of the table and Tenet and Richardson were preoccupied in another, one of the Cabinet members present leaned over to me and said, "Hugh, I know I shouldn’t even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event — something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough — and slow enough — so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?"
The general doesn't explicitly say with whom he was speaking at the time, but the general consensus seems to be that it was the same person who gave this interview.

I was actually really surprised to hear of someone as far back as the Clinton administration suggesting something like allowing one of our own to be shot down in order to provoke war. To be honest, this is something I would have expected to hear come out of the Bush/Cheney White House. Not only was this person willing to purposely send one of our own to die, but he/she was willing to do so to enable the killing of probably tens, if not hundreds, of thousands more. It really is regrettable that stories like this don't get more play. I think it is imperative that people understand that this is what the State is capable of. Even if one is unwilling to accept the premise that such behavior is commonplace or routine and instead believes that false flag operations are the things of spy novels, it should be a very sobering thought that people at the highest levels of government are even capable of suggesting such a thing out loud and with a straight face.

Let's give credit where credit is due, though.
The hair on the back of my neck bristled, my teeth clenched, and my fists tightened. I was so mad I was about to explode. I looked across the table, thinking about the pilot in the U-2 and responded, "Of course we can ..." which prompted a big smile on the official’s face.
"You can?" was the excited reply.

"Why, of course we can," I countered. "Just as soon as we get your ass qualified to fly it, I will have it flown just as low and slow as you want to go."
Brav-o! The military, in some circles, gets a bad rap for being a bunch of warmongers and killers, and I don't know much about this particular general's career, but for this show of cojones, he earns a gold star in my book. I am in constant fear, though, that over time people like this will disappear or lose their sway within government. This quote, attributed to Edmund Burke, looms large:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.


  1. If you believe the military capable of being warmongers then you are looking through the eyes of the liberal media....Never make the mistake the you are hearing the truth from them.

  2. Nearly identical type story as Operation Northwoods. It's not surprising that in his own book, he reports to have responded in this way. Given that the entire campaign in the middle east--and most wars, for that matter--should be viewed by most rational people as just one big scheme in itself, it is curious that high-ranking military official should take such offence to what is basic modus operandi...


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