Tuesday, October 20, 2009

General Hell-Yea!

Don Martin should stop judging generals by their ability to generate good quote and get out and talk to the real soldiers who are cleaning up Hillier's mess. Aside from the fact he was media-friendly, there's little of any value that Hillier brought to his job as chief of the defence staff. He undid the military command and control structure and tried to rebuild it in an American form, at a cost of tens of millions. Now that Hillier's gone, the forces are spending tens of millions to undo this organizational mistake.
As for being some sort of fighting general, well, where's the list of Hillier's victories? Certainly not in Afghanistan, where strategy has always seemed to be some medieval idea of staying in a lager or castle-like stronghold and venturing out into the enemy-dominated countryside to get killed. No chance of victory in that.
Setting aside what some might see as my bloodthirstiness -- I'm a firm believer in the idea that you don't send soldiers into combat situations unless you are prepared to do what it takes in terms of men and equipment (and killing) to win a military victory -- Hillier's great and grievous fault was his failure to understand that he was a soldier, not a political leader. He tried to manipulate political decisions, exactly the same behavior that convinced Harry Truman that he had to fire Douglas MacArthur. We live in a democracy, and we don't elect generals. At least twice in our history, generals tried to usurp the democratic power: once in November, 1944, when the general staff threatened to resign en masse unless Mackenzie King sent conscripts overseas (King gave in); and the other time during the Cuban Missile Crisis when, against Prime Minister Diefenbaker's express orders, the military and the minister of defence conspired to raise the military's state of alertness, effectively putting us on a war footing.
I don't care if Hillier was right or wrong about Afghanistan or any other military matter in which he crossed swords with the PMO. And I don't care whether the PMO was Paul Martin's or Stephen Harper's. When it comes to dealing with elected politicians, the representatives of the people must always win. The general's last response in a conversation with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence must be "yes Sir", and he or she must diligently carry out orders. If a general can't do so in good conscience, he should resign.
If Hillier wants to run the country, let him run for office. I suggest he sit down with a copy of William Manchester's great bio of Douglas MacArthur (American Caesar) and take heed of the contents therein.

1 comment:

boyari2 said...

Politics in Canada has become a blood sport:


This is very sad.