Tag: Obama

Churchill, Obama, and the Sacking of Generals

Churchill, Obama, and the Sacking of Generals

“It is dif­fi­cult to remove a bad Gen­er­al at the height of a cam­paign: it is atro­cious to remove a good Gen­er­al.” —Churchill

Oba­ma and McChrys­tal (White House pho­to by Pete Souza, Wiki­me­dia Com­mons).

What can we learn by com­par­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s dis­missal of Gen­er­al McChrys­tal to Churchill’s dis­missals of Gen­er­als Wavell and Auchin­leck, two dis­tin­guished com­man­ders in World War II? I hope it will not be anoth­er reminder of how stan­dards of con­duct have dete­ri­o­rat­ed.

Dif­fer­ences first. Churchill’s gen­er­als were removed for not suf­fi­cient­ly oppos­ing Irwin Rommel’s Afri­ka Korps. McChrys­tal was not under­per­form­ing, and his sit­u­a­tion bears more resem­blance to that of Gen­er­al Dou­glas MacArthur, the Kore­an com­man­der relieved in 1951 by Pres­i­dent Tru­man for insub­or­di­na­tion.…

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Torture, Obama, Churchill

Torture, Obama, Churchill

Tor­ture Top­ics: In his press con­fer­ence of 29 April 2009, in response to a ques­tion on the dis­clo­sure of top secret mem­os on the use of “enhanced inter­ro­ga­tion meth­ods,” Mr. Oba­ma said:

I was struck by an arti­cle that I was read­ing the oth­er day talk­ing about the fact that the British dur­ing World War II, when Lon­don was being bombed to smithereens, had 200 or so detainees. And Churchill said, ‘We don’t tor­ture,’ when the entire British—all of the British people—were being sub­ject­ed to unimag­in­able risk and threat….the rea­son was that Churchill under­stood — you start tak­ing short­cuts, over time, that cor­rodes what’s best in a peo­ple.…

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“This great country…mooing dolefully…”

“This great country…mooing dolefully…”

21 March 2009 (Asso­ci­at­ed Press):

Iran’s supreme leader, Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, today dis­missed over­tures to his coun­try from the U.S. pres­i­dent, Barack Oba­ma, say­ing Teheran did not see any change in pol­i­cy under the new U.S. admin­is­tra­tion. “They chant the slo­gan of change but no change is seen in prac­tice,” Khamenei said in his speech, broad­cast live on state tele­vi­sion. In his video mes­sage, Oba­ma said the US want­ed to engage Iran and improve decades of strained rela­tions.

 This remind­ed me of Harold Nicolson’s let­ter to his wife, Vita Sackville-West, 1 March 1938 (Nicol­son Diaries, I, 328):

Win­ston spoke of “this great coun­try nos­ing from door to door like a cow that has lost its calf, moo­ing dole­ful­ly now in Berlin and now in Rome—when all the time the tiger and the alli­ga­tor wait for its undo­ing.”…

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