“Clemenceau famously declared that war is too important to be left to the generals. It’s a no-brainer to see that war is too important to be left to the likes of Bush… ” Robert Higgs, Senior Fellow in Political Economy at The Independent Institute and editor of The Independent Review, is concerned that
President George W. Bush has been reading a book. At least, he claims to have been reading one. I know what you’re thinking, but the First Shrub swears that he has been reading more than just the funny papers lately. We’d all be better off, however, if he had stuck to the comics.
In an interview with an Associated Press reporter, Bush said that on his vacation he had been reading a recently published book by Eliot A. Cohen, The Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime. Cohen is a well-known neocon war-hawk and all-around armchair warrior who professes “strategic studies” at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and, in his spare time, ponders mega-deaths (his own not included) with other lusty members of the Defense Policy Board. The quintessential civilian go-getter, he never met a war he didn’t want to send somebody else to fight and die in.
The Supreme Command consists of case studies of how four “statesmen” — Abraham Lincoln, Georges Clemenceau, Winston Churchill, and David Ben-Gurion — successfully managed to make their generals act more vigorously than those officers really wanted to act. By spurring their too-timid generals, these four micro-managing commanders-in-chief supposedly got superior results from their war-making efforts. The common soldiers who were fed into the consuming maw of war under these worthies might have given us a different opinion, but dead men don’t make good critics.
So what are we to make of Bush’s reading of this book, assuming that he really has been reading it? The short answer is that this is not good news for the world. Such reading seems calculated to bend the president’s mind, never a mighty organ in any event, toward thinking of himself in Lincolnian or Churchillian terms. Indeed, those of us who have had the stomach to observe his public strutting and puffing since September 11 might have suspected that his juvenile sensibilities would be drawn all too readily toward such a grandiose self-conception. After all, does he but speak, and mighty armadas are launched on a global war against evil? AlterNet [thanks, Walker]