Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Funny you should mention that...

If you caught the Daily Show tonight, you saw a brief discussion of the view George McLellan (traveller and mediocre Civil War General) had of the Middle East. McLellan was quoted as saying that America's biggest fault in the Mideast is that they always see it as a mirror of America. Until Americans understand that the Middle East is different from America, and the people there are different from Americans, then America will continue to make mistake after mistake.

Stewart responded by asking if there was any chance that Dick Cheney and others could ever have met McLellan.

Funny you should mention that...

During the run-up to the Gulf War, Norman Schwarzkopf was under immense pressure to start the invasion of Kuwait early, before all of his forces had arrived in theatre. At one point, Colin Powell personally called Stormin' Norman and said that he was being loudly compared -- by civilians in the Bush administration -- to George McLellan (for his mediocrity, not for his nuanced views on the Middle East.)

Coincidentally, none other than Dick Cheney would later give Schwarzkopf a Christmas present: Ken Burns' documentary on the US Civil War. Schwarzkopf pretty clearly took it as an insult, and believed that Cheney was the mysterious person naming him "Mclellan".

It gets even better, of course. Cheney -- who never saw a disastrous misadventure he couldn't support -- was responsible for strongly pushing what was called "the Western Excursion". Theoretically the US would land the 82nd airborne in the far west of Iraq, far from support or resupply, and... the 82nd would win the war somehow.

It's a mystery to me why Cheney was ever seen as a realist.


Cyrus said...

In much the same way that the meaning of "conservative" somehow got stretched to include Bush's massive deficits and nanny-state policies (at least, while he remained popular), the definition of the political science school of thought called "realism" has been stretched to include anyone who makes short-to-medium-term calculations of America's best interest that put little weight on humanitarianism. Whether they are actually realistic in the normal "pragmatic, sane" sense of the word seems to be beside the point.

celestialspeedster said...

Then Cheney gave Schwarzkopf the cut eyes and Schwarzkopf was like, "Oh no, you didn't!" and "Your mama" 'cause he had also heard that Cheney called him a "McLellan" behind his back during gym. The Powell ran in to lay the beats on Schwarzkopf.
Everyone got detention for the rest of the week.

john said...

I like that version better. It's snappier.