Vestal Veterans:
Cincinnatus, Washington, Sherman and Marshall

General of the Army George C. Marshall, the architect and nanny of the military victory in World War II, was a modern day Cincinnatus, Washington and Sherman. All knew that the military was subordinate to civilian policy-making if one wanted to live in a world with fewer and fewer problems. The military was the means of last resort when the civilians failed in public policy-making, that is, war was diplomacy by other means. (Clausowitz). All three were men of peace who viewed strong, decisive military action as the quickest way to ending war and restoring peace. None, by example, wanted a government of military men.

In the early days of the Roman Republic, an invasion prompted the elected officials to approach Cincinnatus, a retired general, to don the toga of dictator--six months of unquestioned rule, 24 lictors with the fasces, and no recrimination for any action. Leaving his plow in the field, Cincinnatus road his horse off to organize and defeat the invaders whereupon he returned home, re-hitched the plow and continued farming.

After the victory at Yorktown, the dissastified, non-paid officers of Continental Army prepared a proposal for George Washington to become king of America. Some leaders of the Continental Congress had similar plans. In a memorable speech, the Temple Speech, Washington squashed the plans citing the inherent strength of civilian leadership in solving the problems of civilization. From this meeting, the Society of Cincinnatus was formed from these officers to honor Washington echoing the example of Cincinnatus.

"If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve" were the summary statements of General William Tecumseh Sherman on the role of military men pursuing high public office. If Grant had followed Sherman's example, Grant would not have gone done in history with the stigma of ineptness and corruption in high office. Upon becoming commanding general of the US military after the Civil War, four-star Billy moved the army headquarters to St. Louis to distance military decision-making from interfering petty politicians. Sherman's March to the Sea embodied the principle of the quickest victory to peace is to fulfill the meaning of "War is Hell!"

In bringing economic-destroying war upon the Confederate civilian population, Sherman buttresses the need for a separation of civilian and military leadership. When a consoling Lincoln vistied the defeated and dispirited troops after the loss at the Battle of Bull Run, Sherman (then a colonel) "asked Lincoln to 'to discourage all cheering.' After the boasts that preceded Bull run, he explained, 'what we needed were cool, thought, hard-fighting soldiers--no more hurrahing, no more humbug.*'" Lincoln checked the troops when they started cheering.

Consistently, as shown in many military coups, political generals make lousy policy-makers and military leaders. the poster child for military ineptness is the 2008 Air Force $40 billion decision to purchase European rather than American planes. More important than the polite, not political, question of "How can the military expect American workers to support the military if the military won't support the worker?" is the question of how can unemployed workers pay taxes to purchase planes? Given that each dollar multiplies by a factor of five, the plane contract was really more like a loss of $200 billion dollars instead of $40 billion. More broadly, how can Americans compete if they don't have jobs to learn how to compete? Catch-22. (An Air Force Lt. General said that it did not matter who built the plane as long as it had USA painted on it. Duh.)

When the military does not focus totally on winning wars because they become involved in politics, wars and nations are lost. Consider the words, style and record of another Civil War general, George McClellan.

  1. "You have no idea how the men brighten up now, when I go among them ... Yesterday they nearly pulled me to pieces in one regt. You never near such yelling."*

  2. "God has placed a great work in my hands."

In war studies, both Uncle Billy and Little Mac are studied, one for what to do and the other for what not to do. Whereas Sherman said he would not run nor serve, the Little Napolean, as the 1864 Democrats' presidential nominee, ran but did not serve, for he was not elected. Little Mac had a hidden agenda of prolonging the war until war-worry fatigue prompted a compromise whereby the peculiar institution would be saved.

General George C. Marshall was a human being who as a military man set an example that all serving personnel should follow in the axiomatic separation of political and military instruments.

  1. When Roosevelt, the gregarious president, said at their first meeting, "George ..." General Marshall interrupted, "Mr. President, it is General Marshall."
  2. In 1933, he was appointed by Roosevelt to organize the Civilian Conservation Corps, the first leg of a centipedal effort to put America back on its feet from the body-slam of Republican economics and Wall Stealers.
  3. In 1939, he had a victory plan formulated for winning the war before Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, a plan waiting for civilian leaders to rise up to the legislative needs and political acumen to win the war against fascism.
  4. In 1943, Roosevelt told General Marshall that Marshall deserved the honor and legacy of leading the invasion of Europe if he asked for it. He responded that the decision was not his to make since it was political, not military. Several times, Roosevelt asked Marshall to decide with the same military response from Marshall. Needing both the military and apolitical genius of Marshall as nanny to big, thin-skinned egos in Washington, London, Casablanca, Cairo, Tehran, and Moscow, Roosevelt appointed Eisenhower.
  5. In early 1944, a U.S. Senator gave a speech proposing Gen. Marshall for the fall national presidential election without asking or notifying Marshall. Later that summer, long after the Senator's speech was history without consequence, Marshall appeared before a Senate committee on which the senator was serving. The Senator began his questioning with a statement about Marshall not thanking him for the senator's speech. Marshall quickly responded, "Yes, senator, I certainly did not."
  6. On June 6, 1944, General Eisenhower announced Operation Overlord, D-Day, the invasion of Hitler's Fortress Europa. The rest is history. Using the White House as a retirement home and golf traveling agency, Eisenhower was like the last elected war-hero President (Grant) whose hands-off presidency yielded corruption and waste giving rise to the term "lobbying" because of deals made in the Willard Hotel lobby. Marshall would have cleaned up rather than waiting until the last moment to merely talk about the Military Industrial Complex. In many ways, Eisenhowers turning away from the corruption and ignoring the fruitless red-scare was no different than the German population who accepted nazi corruption and holocaust--see I Dislike Ike.
  7. In 1948, General Marshall initiated the formation of the North American Treaty Organization, a military concept that reduced piecemeal dismemberment of Western Europe in the face of the Soviet unified Eastern military hegemony.
  8. In 1948, General Marshall realized the need for a European economic recovery program to stave off radical political movements that would align against the West. When Congress voted the funding, President Truman told General Marshall that the plan would be named after him rather than the General's objective descriptive title, European Recovery Plan. Marshall's request to defer the honor was denied. Truman announced to Marshall that as Marshall's commander-in-chief it was a Presidential order that it be known as the Marshall Plan. Sort of like Lincoln claiming "Dixie" as a prize of war and requesting it be played before the White House on the day of Lee's surrender at Appomatox. (Please note that it is economic power that precedes and permits military power. A third world war was prevented by the preceptive application of When politicians make good policy then the polity in polis will be polite without police. Since WWII,  especially in recent years, America's do-nothing, super-partisan, short-selling inside-information-peddling Congress increasingly destroyed America's industrial infrastructure in exchange for campaign kickbacks from foreign-associated industries under the guise of "globalization" and "Save Money, Live Better." Favored-nation status has destroyed the pursued status of the American voter, the American Dream.)
  9. In the 1950's, General Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the only warrior to be so honored.
  10. Repeatedly, Marshall declined invitations to swap the uniform for mufti. Unlike Douglas MacArthur's numerous decades-long political machinations, there are no reports of Marshall ever publicly prognosticating on politics. MacArthur was little better than Geo. McClellan who was a varitable political pundit in his relation with the Lincoln administraton. After taking office, Roosevelt said the two most dangerous men to America's democracy were Huey "King Fisher" Long and Gen. MacArthur. Infidelity and Filipinos diverted both from American politics.
  11. It is reported that from his sense of duty, Marshall never voted in the decades of extraordinary service to the United States of America. In his duty and daily actions he voted more often than sunshine patriots who vote only election day for American democracy.

Marshall personifies the separation of military from politics, a divide that disappears each time that military units grab-ass with visiting politicians for a high-five, hi-mom photo-ops. As Marborough and Pitt were the strategic wizards of the Eighteenth Century that imperially created the economic and political British Empire so was Marshall the sublime maven of the Twentieth Century when human rights were being extinguished by the fascist Axis powers. Ironically, the winning strategy of the Second World War was the political and economic curtailment of the British Empire to open the doors of global American economic and political dominance. The history of military involvement in politics is no better than theocracies where a non-work segment controls the policy-making for bread-and-butter everyday population.

The businesses of fighting and praying are not working enterprises. Work is solving the real problems of survival. Prayer is trying to get something for nothing, a last resort when logic and reason is lacking or ignored. Fighting is destroying rather than creating, a last resort when logic and reason is lacking or ignored: "War is diplomancy by other means"(Clausewitz). Persons trained in non-working businesses, like habitual athletes, may claim that they work but they only fight, pray or play. Policy-making for a better working world has been and will be less productive if politics is monopolized by military juntas, religious theocracies or obsessed sports-addicts. To wit, when politicians make good policy than the polity in the polis will be polite without police.

The degree to which one brings irrelevant factors into the problem-solving process, personal or public, will be matched by incompleteness of the problem solution. Either the problem will be partially solved or remain unsolved. One can see this in the historical overthrow of juntas, theocracies and playgrounds. Sadly, and currently, one can see this management style of Geo. W. Bush who implemented a de facto theocratic White House, e.g., Iraq is a faith-based initiative. The more theocratic our secular leaders, the more we need the bliss of ignorance to wade through the rising sea of ignored, unsolved problems. The bliss of illogical igknowance is not the serenity of logical faith.

What does this all mean? Lessons to be learned:

  1. A soldier who cheers a politician is a non-soldier in uniform.

  2. A soldier who relies on God or faith to solve a problem abuses God rather than those who use God to keep solving the problem.

  3. Theocracies always lose in wars with secular forces, for the theocrats increasingly rely on God's will as the reason for misfortune rather than saying "Praise God, but first pass the ammo."

  4. The US invasion of Iraq was a faith-based initiative wrapped in politicians wrapping themselves in claims of crusades against evil and of patriotism for country, claims that were seconded by cheering troops whose enthusiasm for questionable war did not last.

  5. In the current global civil war between moral and immoral attitudes, it won't matter who wins, for the house of humanity is burning down with nothing being left for whoever wins due to global dying.

Another way of claiming the logical fact of and need for military-politics separation is the observation that guerillas are good at over-throwing but not at running governments.

Favorite Marshall Stories:

  1. If his plane had empty seats when returning to America, he filled them with wounded personnel waiting for a ship to take them home.
  2. One cold snowing Friday night driving to his home, he picked up a hitchhiking soldier in a simliar long woolen trench coat with an upturned collar. The soldier turned the radio to another station. Marshall turned it back. The soldier again rotated the dial. Before turning the station back, Marshall turned his collar down. The soldier didn't touch the dial, for he appreciated military stars more than musical notes.
  3. When the mild-mannered, even-keeled Marshall was asked if he had anything for which he had passion he somberly responded that he reserve his passion for Mrs. Marshall.
  4. After asking the military czar of the Manhatten Project, Gen. Grove, to wait a moment, Marshall signed the papers authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars for the atom bomb. With a small smile, Marshall informed Gen.Groves that the wait was due to Marshall needing to write a few dollar check for some grass seed needed at his home.
  5. The saga of the 4,000 raincoats is so funny that it is worth the reader's time to track it down.

Notes: Vestal Veterans

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