Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why we're not yet really fascists: where are all the Superstar Generals?

Though Americans are proud to be without a royal family or a tough-but-fair autocrat who took charge via a military coup running things around here, we do have a history of superstar Generals who even veterans of our public schools can rattle off without even thinking: George Washington. Ulysses S. Grant. 'Blackjack' Pershing. Douglas MacArthur. George S. 'like crap through a goose' Patton. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Even more recently, during Gulf War I, aka American Gets Its Groove Back, fat middle aged men sitting on the couch watching the ass-kicking all teary eyed fell in love with fat, middle-aged General Norman Schwarzkopf, whose aw-shucks memoir 'It Doesn't Take a Hero' was a phenomenally successful best-seller for a while. General Colin Powell became 'the black man everybody at work can agree on' before Will Smith took the title, and middle Americans unable to pronounce the word 'wash' properly marveled that 'he speaks so well'.

Then, somewhere, somehow, things went awry for the military as a path to celebrity. Though MacArthur famously said 'Old soldiers never die, they just fade away', and Schwarzkopf appears to have done exactly that (note to self - Google to see if he's still alive after typing this), Powell introduced a new model for old soldiers - the political career that crashes and burns because you hitched your wagon to the wrong star.

With Gulf War II, aka this time we mean it motherfuckers, you'd expect a whole new Rat Pack or Brat Pack or what have you of military superstars to come out and start shining, but mostly they've been in the shadows. The only Generals I could name associated with Gulf War II when I started writing this were Gen. Janis Karpinski of Abu Ghraib infamy, and General Vincent Brooks, who gave all those press conferences in the pre 'Mission Accomplished' days, charming us with strong and powerful oratory like this:

It's unlike any other targeting process in the world. It takes into account all science, it takes into account all capability, and we do everything physically and scientifically possible to be precise in our targeting and also to minimize secondary affects, whether it's on people or structures.

The words seemed carefully crafted to fade from memory the instant your neurons processed them. Kids in no schoolyards proceeded to imagine themselves bravely minimizing secondary affects on structures.

While military folks are regarded as heroes in this go-around, they are kind of faceless everyman dad-went-in-to-work-even-when-he-had-a-fever-of-103 heroes. The days of the Superstar Generals seem to be gone. Now its ex-CEOs and academic neocons running things. Where have you gone, Dwight D. Eisenhower? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo.

P.S. - He's alive!

No comments: