Phil Weiss of the New York Observer highlights one of the good things about the United States and our military. They are, at least at a certain level in the officer corps, open-minded and dedicated to the principle of free speech.
Yesterday the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, opened its annual conference on international strategy with a speech from the Navy Secretary in a vast hall, followed by a panel on American power composed of three scholars, all of whom had opposed the war in Iraq. Indeed, in the biographical notes that were given out to the audience of officers—men and women wearing their dress whites—one of the scholars stated bluntly that he had written about the "folly of invading Iraq."
This comes on the heels of the news that Noam Chomsky was invited to speak at West Point and was reportedly well-received. If only our civilian leadership and millionaire journalists were as open-minded.
Phil’s article is also interesting as yet another example of how our top-notch military professionals acknowledge that we are totally fucked in Iraq:
"My question to the panel is, What is the path to success in Iraq?"
There was a damburst of laughter in the audience, then the scholars took it on, one by one. The first, Stephen Walt of Harvard, said "This was a huge strategic blunder, there are no attractive plans forward."
But bad news about our “war on terror” is hardly a revelation these days. Everyone knows we’re screwed. The important things are that at least a significant portion of the top ranks of the military have a solid understanding of American ideals, that they are well-educated, and that they are continuing their education. Unlike say, the civilian branches of government all of which have completely abdicated their responsibility to all that was ever good about this country.
But you have to wonder about the disconnect between the high ideals of the officer corps and the reality on the ground. A constant stream of reports since the very beginning of our invasion of Iraq have described enlisted personnel abusing and humiliating Iraqi civilians and this behavior is often cited by Iraqis as the primary cause of the insurgency. Why don’t the high ideals filter down to the boots on the ground?