Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


This is coolbert:

The announcement of General Wesley Clark to run for President [his campaign did not succeed, obviously!] brought scornful comments from David Hackworth. Hackworth, the distinguished military commander and military commentator for over thirty years now. Perhaps the most biting and scornful comment of Hackworth's was the characterization of Clark as being a perfumed prince.

Now, David Hackworth IS a very distinguished military man. Fought in three wars, World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam. Rose from the rank of private to become a full Colonel. Was a man who earned and deserved the greatest respect possible. Hackworth is also mentioned in another blog entry as being of Scots-Irish background. A man coming an ethnic group that dislikes any form of elitism or aristocracy. It is obvious that Hackworth has a lot of disdain for Clark, describing Clark as a military man who got to the top [Clark became commander of NATO], "without every having gotten his boots dirty" [this according to Hackworth]. I am sure the implication here by Hackworth is that Clark got to the top the easy way, without having to endure the normal privations and hardships as suffered by most other military men, including Hackworth himself.

Is this a fair characterization?

Not entirely false, but over exaggerated.

It seems that Wesley Clark HAS led a charmed life.

He DID graduate first in his class academically at West Point. That is a notable achievement.

And he was spotted and groomed from that point on for a high level of leadership. Upon graduating West Point in 1966, Clark did further studies at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. For a West Point grad with such a distinguished academic record, this is not unusual. It seems that a lot of Clark's time at Oxford was spent in engaging in dialog with British students who were stridently anti-war and anti-American.

Subsequent to his days as a Rhodes Scholar, Clark did go to Vietnam, served in the infantry [Clark was in the armor branch, but commanded mechanized infantry in Vietnam], was wounded and did receive the Silver Star for valor [just as did John Kerry]. So it is an exaggeration on Hackworth's part to say that Clark rose to the top without ever having gotten his boots dirty.

As he seems to have an aversion to those persons he refers to as "perfumed princes", I am not sure what David Hackworth would have thought of such Generals as Mac Arthur, Patton, Eisenhower, and Schwarzkopf.

Douglas Mac Arthur for instance: (1) during his days as a cadet at West Point, had his mother rent a home just off post where she was able to properly supervise her son and his education!! (2) Upon assuming command of the Philippine military, took over, gutted and renovated the top floors of the most exclusive hotel in all Manila as his personal headquarters and living accommodations. Ensconced himself as almost a viceroy or generalissimo of a colonial power. (3) upon returning to the U.S., once again established living accommodations in the most exclusive hotel in Washington D.C., complete with separate living quarters for his Filipina mistress [keeping this mistress as a secret from his mother totally at the time [Mac Arthur at the time was in his fifties and his mother in her eighties]]!!!.

George S. Patton Jr. as a young West Point grad, deliberately sought out and married a young woman from the upper classes of American society. A woman independently wealthy and whose family had "connections" at the highest level of government. This was to be a means [among others] that allowed for Patton to rise to the level of command that he felt was his due. And something that he felt was his due from the very start of his military career. Patton was also famous for dressing in uniforms of his own design, even though the designs flouted regulations, regulations that most officers are sticklers for having subordinates obey.

Dwight David Eisenhower was a man who rose to the top literally without having gotten his boots dirty. A West Point grad, Eisenhower during World War One served as a pedagogue. An instructor. And in the inter-war years, Eisenhower established his reputation as being the finest staff officer in the U.S. Army. But prior to his becoming a General and commanding the European theatre, Eisenhower had never commanded troops at all!! Not at any level!! Eisenhower had absolutely no combat experience at all!!

Norman Schwarzkopf also seems to have led a very charmed life since even early childhood. Norman's father was a Major General who played an important role in U.S. military Middle East adventures during World War Two. During his early years, Norman attended boarding schools in Switzerland where he learned several languages, all the while spending summers with his father at various Middle Eastern postings [this is almost the same identical prep school background that John Kerry has]. Norman did serve as an infantry advisor to the South Vietnamese and did see combat, but not while leading U.S. forces.

I would like to hear Hackworth's comments and opinions of the above men! Surely there is more than one route to the top command other than the pull-yourself-up-by-the-boot-straps-and-do-it-as-I-did attitude of Hackworth's. And this is not to demean David Hackworth in the slightest. Surely David Hackworth realizes there is more than one way to the top. His way is not the only way.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home