Egomania run amok, even in the Military?

So says Peggy Noonan in  interesting column in the Wall Street Journal.   Comparisons between the pictures of the two Generals, Eisenhower and Petraeus, seem to support her theory.  Whatever happened to modesty and not blowing your own horn?   “The brass sure is brassier than it used to be”!


5 thoughts on “Egomania run amok, even in the Military?

  1. in case anyone missed it, the New York Post had a front page headline in 100 multi-colored font “Brass Balls”

  2. Interesting article. A few observations from a crusty old Viet Nam vet (with only four medals, one Unit Citation, and three badges) – yes, the General has a lot of colorful “fruit salad” (that’s what we called it, too, back in 1968) to be sure. It looks like most of the General’s decorations are for “Distinguished Service” or “Meritorious Service” actions, i.e., using his “brain” to direct other men to their deaths, rather than him being in the bush having enemy mortar or artillery shells reigning down on his behind, too, despite his duty in Afghanistan. Unless my eyes are deceiving me, I didn’t see any combat ribbons on him for South Vietnam, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Global War on Terrorism campaign medals. Why is that?? He does have a Bronze Star, and that is good, but that is not always given for valor. Lot of Unit Citation Badges and some other cool badges like Master Parachutist and Air Assault. “Go Airborne”. The thing that I noticed first was his “Combat Acton Badge”, or CAB. The CAB, which I believe was first authorized after 2001, is awarded to individuals whose duties are in a hostile enemy area, regardless if the individual was actually engaged with the enemy. I thought he would at least have the coveted “Combat Infantryman Badge”, or CIB. You don’t get the CIB unless you are serving in Army ground Combat Arms (Infantry, Artillery, Tank) and were actually engaged with the enemy shooting you and you were shooting them back. Yea, I have been there. You really earned your CIB (if you survived). However, in the end, all the General’s awards, decorations, badges, and and Unit Citations couldn’t protect him. Sad.

    1. Interesting that you say, that my DH, who also served during Vietnam, said the same thing. No purple heart, nothing to indicate that he’s ever lead men on a field of battle.

  3. “Top brass sure is brassier than it used to be. And you have to wonder what that’s about. Where did the old culture of modesty go?”

    This country is in grave danger when even a woman who served in the Reagan White House can evidence such truly gross misunderstanding and ignorance about the US military. Modesty, or self-promotion, of course, has nothing at all to do with the subject. In Eisenhower’s day we fought rather brief conventional wars and then went home. Now we fight “low intensity” unconventional wars involving a whole range of strap-hanger “allies” that go on and on and on ad infinitum. And those wars constantly “evolve” as a consequence of ignorant domestic poltics to the point when no one understands the actual mission anymore. It’s part and parcel of the US military playing World Cop, rather than Defender Of The Nation. Better to criticize Petraeus’ for his uniform than look in the mirror and see a whole people who really don’t care about those wars (or their soldiers) and allow their politicians to let them run forever. About half the stuff on Petraeus’ uniform was hung there by foreign governments grateful to have him use his soldiers and US taxpayer money to do their hard stuff – while also hoping he’ll bite his tongue on his true feelings about their “military contributions” to the effort. If he didn’t accept those “awards”, and wear them whenever his picture was taken, it would immediately be a matter of diplomatic slight.

    These are just two of the many modern practical reasons why Petraeus’ uniform looks the way it does. At least he came up through the ranks and wasn’t appointed to his position by aristocracy, as was always the way with other “great military leaders” from other countries, who routinely sacrificed many thousands, even millions, to “earn” their place in history. Eisenhower was not anxious to display for military subordinates his lack of combat experience, so extreme understatement was a smart course. If he had such experience with the horrors of war, he probably would not had given the D-Day order. Shoe salesman Harry Truman, who actually served in combat on the incredibly stupid killing fields of France during World War I, did the math and reached a far different conclusion when the prospect of another Operation Overlord rose on the horizon. Truman’s action denied us all, from those who would have survived an invasion of Japan, a new crop of inflated military leaders who secured their place in history with the sacrifice of a million dead soldiers.

    Maybe Noonan would have done us all a favor if she had first asked about Petraeus’ uniform BEFORE leaving her snide comment hanging in the air for all the other equally uninformed Americans to accept as fact. Petraeus’ uniform is a victim of our times, as Noonan’s ignorant comment demonstrates.

  4. WWII was a rather ‘brief’ war and went home? WWI was too? Me thinks it is not Peggy Noonan who is ignorant.

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