I was just thinking, a surprising number of the Bush cabinet are referred to as “chickenhawks,” in other words, pursuing aggressive military policy without having had any military experience. However, Donald Rumsfeld, one of the most despised Bush officials, did in fact serve in the Navy as an aviator and reached the rank of Captain.
Personally I think that Donald Rumsfeld has not been a good leader, but at least he has military service under his belt. The same cannot be said for Bush or Cheney. Nor can it be said for any of the neocons (Paul Wolfowitz or Richard Perle for example. Nor can it be said, for that matter, for William Cohen, Clinton’s secretary of defense.
When I read that Cohen had never served in the military, I was quite surprised. I would think that any man in charge of waging war should know what it is like to actually have been in a war. And Wolfowitz, long known as an advocate of pre-emtive strikes and other very aggressive military tactics, is a quintessential Jewish intellectual, a member of the academic intelligentsia who has spent his entire life in a university office - why the hell is someone like this in charge of anything remotely related to the matters of life and death on a battlefield?
I would think that in an ideal government, every member at the upper level of the department of defense would have to be a veteran of combat. I mean, how can someone make decisions about it if they don’t know what it’s like? It’s like Ray Charles designing a suit. It doesn’t compute.
Does this sound reasonable? Say whatever you want about John Kerry (personally I am a huge fan of his and was absolutely crushed when he lost the election) - the guy had been in combat, he had been fired upon by enemy bullets. The Swift Boat Veterans pulled a really despicable smear campaign on him, and a lot of people fell for it, but even if every single thing they said was true, Kerry still would have been a veteran of combat. Al Gore was in Vietnam as a journalist, which some might say is not “real” combat experience, but he still witnessed the war first hand on the ground. I think both of these men would have handled our military better than it is being handled now. Do you agree?