Jan 14, 2009
Doing The Right Thing
I have always told my kids that doing the right thing may not always feel like the right thing; it may not be recognized as the right thing, and it may make enemies. But in the end, what matters most is that you stepped up, and that you did so, knowing that it might cost you - but you did it anyway. Such is the case with Gen. Eric K. Shinseki.
Gen. Shinseki put his career on the line by telling the truth about the Iraq war; about what it would take to engage effectively, and what it would cost us. His reward was to have the White House version of the Cone of Silence lowered onto his head. In February, 2003 while testifying before Congress, shortly before the beginning of what we now know as The Long War, he stated that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be needed to stabilize Iraq after an invasion." That our troops would encounter “ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems,” adding, “and so it takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment.” Rumsfeld scoffed. Wolfowitz dismissed him and his testimony as "wildly off the mark." Gen. Shenseki's predictions were right on the money, and though he was eventually vindicated by the passage of time, it wasn't soon enough (for me anyway). He quietly retired from the Army in 2007.
I also believe that when you do the right thing, it does not go unnoticed. President Elect Obama noticed and has chosen him as the 7th President Elect Obama noticed and has chosen him as the 7th United States Secretary of of Veterans Affairs. A better, and more symbolic choice can't be found. He cared at the beginning, and he will now bring that thoughtfulness and kindness to the overburdened, injured, traumatized band of brothers and sisters he was charged with leading. At the outset his goal was to deploy an army that would fulfill their duties in the safest way possible. Given that the Bush Administration has so soundly failed them, it comforts me to know that he'll be able to make sure they're cared for now that they're home.