posted on April 28, 2007 09:56
Transcript taken from democrats.org, where you can download or stream this speech.
"Good morning, this is Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army, retired.
"I am not now nor have I ever been a Democrat or a Republican. Thus, I do not speak for the Democratic Party. I speak for myself, as a non-partisan retired military officer who is a former Director of the National Security Agency. I do so because Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, asked me.
"In principle, I do not favor Congressional involvement in the execution of U.S. foreign and military policy. I have seen its perverse effects in many cases. The conflict in Iraq is different. Over the past couple of years, the President has let it proceed on automatic pilot, making no corrections in the face of accumulating evidence that his strategy is failing and cannot be rescued.
"Thus, he lets the United States fly further and further into trouble, squandering its influence, money, and blood, facilitating the gains of our enemies. The Congress is the only mechanism we have to fill this vacuum in command judgment.
"To put this in a simple army metaphor, the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL, that is 'absent without leave.' He neither acts nor talks as though he is in charge. Rather, he engages in tit-for-tat games.
"Some in Congress on both sides of the aisle have responded with their own tits-for-tats. These kinds of games, however, are no longer helpful, much less amusing. They merely reflect the absence of effective leadership in a crisis. And we are in a crisis.
"Most Americans suspect that something is fundamentally wrong with the President's management of the conflict in Iraq. And they are right.
"The challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq; it is how to recover from a strategic mistake: invading Iraq in the first place. The war could never have served American interests.
"But it has served Iran's interest by revenging Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in the 1980s and enhancing Iran's influence within Iraq. It has also served al Qaeda's interests, providing a much better training ground than did Afghanistan, allowing it to build its ranks far above the levels and competence that otherwise would have been possible.
"We cannot 'win' a war that serves our enemies interests and not our own. Thus continuing to pursue the illusion of victory in Iraq makes no sense. We can now see that it never did.
"A wise commander in this situation normally revises his objectives and changes his strategy, not just marginally, but radically. Nothing less today will limit the death and destruction that the invasion of Iraq has unleashed.
"No effective new strategy can be devised for the United States until it begins withdrawing its forces from Iraq. Only that step will break the paralysis that now confronts us. Withdrawal is the pre-condition for winning support from countries in Europe that have stood aside and other major powers including India, China, Japan, Russia.
"It will also shock and change attitudes in Iran, Syria, and other countries on Iraq's borders, making them far more likely to take seriously new U.S. approaches, not just to Iraq, but to restoring regional stability and heading off the spreading chaos that our war has caused.
"The bill that Congress approved this week, with bipartisan support, setting schedules for withdrawal, provides the President an opportunity to begin this kind of strategic shift, one that defines regional stability as the measure of victory, not some impossible outcome.
"I hope the President seizes this moment for a basic change in course and signs the bill the Congress has sent him. I will respect him greatly for such a rare act of courage, and so too, I suspect, will most Americans.
"This is retired General Odom. Thank you for listening."
Saturday, April 28, 2007 3:51 AM
Lt. Ge. William E. Odom is a highly intelligent, very accomplished, and deeply complex man. His insights about the modern world and America's place in this world are "must reading" for anyone interested in developing a fully rounded perspective. Unfortunately, the General's big weakness is his political naiveté, which is why he allowed himself to be the stooge for the Democrats in this speech.
Here, for example is something he wrote in April, 2000 about how the modern world works: "When the United States anchors only in Britain and France, it can win wars in Europe, but it cannot prevent them. When it anchors in China, it can win wars in the Far East, but it cannot prevent them."
In that same presentation, speaking of differences between the Western Democracies that Gen. Odom calls gaps, he said, "The foundation for these gaps is another gap: America’s liberal political institutions. They have facilitated America’s corporate governance system, its enforcement of business competition, and its labor mobility. No country other than Britain has a university that equals any of America’s top forty or fifty universities. America’s dominance in mass culture is well-known, but less noticed is its place in high culture. Aspiring musicians from around the world come to Juilliard, the Curtis School, and Bloomington, Indiana, to achieve the highest level of competency. They used to go to Germany and Austria."
And yet this is a man who gives the Democrat opposition the following ammunition: "...the Commander-in-Chief seems to have gone AWOL..."
Gen. Odom knows better than this, but he is about to discover that you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. By letting himself be used in this manner, he has effectively marginalized himself from any further involvement in real policy making, except as a political lacky for the (dis)loyal Democrat opposition.
Shame on you General – I used to have a lot of respect for you.
Sunday, April 29, 2007 2:57 AM
Good Grief, Robert. The reason I deleted your comments is because you published a private exchange between us that I specifically told you I did not want published.
You seem as sorry to have disregarded my wishes as I am to have deleted the offending comments.
As for not replying to your lengthy comments made during the middle of what was for me a hectic workweek, you are quite impatient and insensitive to my situation.
Truth be known, I have zero obligations to you or to this blog, aside from treating you and Jason with a certain amount of decorum. Believe me, it would be easier if you bothered to reciprocate.
I am contributing to TDH as a favor to your son, to drive traffic to his site, and as a favor to you sir, to increase exposure to your book.
I told you twice that I was very busy and didn't have time to reply to you properly, and that I would when I had time.
Surely you know that I have real obligations to my clients and my family. Your patience and respect will be appreciated.
Sunday, April 29, 2007 3:44 AM
"I'm glad you remain firm in your convictions, no matter what anyone who is more experienced than you at conducting warfare may say..."
So, I have to ask... what of all the experienced people in this administration and in the active forces in Iraq who claim that things are going quite well? What weight do THEIR voices carry? Or are theirs to be dismissed out of hand because the message they carry fails to match the defeatist template that characterizes the Left?
It's hardly surprising that the Democrats have managed to find a former general or two to sing their song. The ten-percent rule applies to the flag ranks as truly as it does to any other community. But just as Sherlock Holmes found meaning in the dog that DIDN'T bark in the night, if you're going to trumpet General Odom's comtribution, you'd better also account for the (overwhelming majority of) former generals who won't give the Left side of the aisle so much as the time of day.
Fail at least to attempt top account for that, and you aren't making an argument so much as spouting propaganda.
On another note...
Surely you must be aware that, if one has a "Democratic" party, then one must at some level deal with the implication that anyone who is NOT a member must not be "Democratic." Through no fault of its own, this word has acquired a double meaning. So, Collette:
DO YOU MEAN TO ASSERT THAT AMERICANS WHO ARE NOT MEMBERS OF THE DEMOCRAT PARTY DO NOT, THEREFORE, ESPOUSE THE VALUE SYSTEM ASSOCIATED WITH REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY?
And if you do not mean to assert this, then do you deny the validity of the implication I pointed out above?
And, if you do not deny this implication, then I'd be interested to read your argument in favor of using our common language to marginalize and stigmatize somewhere near half the population of the United States, purely on the basis of party affiliation.
Sunday, April 29, 2007 9:56 AM
That would be the 'Democratic' opposition, the word 'Democrat' being a noun and 'Democratic' being the adjective that modifies other nouns, like Democratic Party or Democratic President.
The "AWOL President" sound byte you complain of is meant for the benefit of the 28% or so Americans(1) who _still yet_ hold out in favor of Bush's job performance. Gen. Odom may have won over a few of them yesterday when he spoke his conscience. May it be so.
Democratic politicians as a whole have demonstrated that they are just awful at generating buzzwords like "Mission Accomplished"(2) for the mass media to pound into our heads. I'm glad Gen. Odom helped out. In appreciating his contribution, I would be in the majority, for once.
But Robert, I'm glad you remain firm in your convictions, no matter what anyone who is more experienced than you at conducting warfare may say, and in spite of whatever facts may come to light. What would life be like without your daily dose of pejoratives?
(1) WSJ 27 April 2007. No formatted comments = no link
(2) As of May 1, 2007 the 'mission' will have been declared 'accomplished' for four entire years.
Sunday, April 29, 2007 11:46 AM
If you, C, are going to comment on this blog, then you take on the obligation of following through, at least to the point of replying when a reply is called for, as following my comment to Jason's "Honor" post, and when I requested that you read and comment on my post: Through a Glass Darkly. I find it particularly frustrating that you will jump into a situation, make several ill considered, off-topic comments, launch a personal attack against me, and then fail to reply, or even worse, delete my comments.
When I was a student at University of Washington in the 1960s, members of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) – a left wing group that ultimately turned out to be funded directly from the Kremlin – would address rapt groups outside the Student Union Building. When I would mount the podium to present another perspective, these same people would shout me down, so that no one could hear what I was saying.
In my experience, in the ensuing 40 years, nothing has changed. The left wing still tries to shout down anyone who does not agree with it. Today, the shouting down comes entirely from within the Democrat Party. Look at example after example on college campuses across the country, where zealous Young Democrats shout down or otherwise physically prevent people with whom they disagree from speaking. I challenge you to show me even one such example where Young Republicans have done this – even one!
Now, regarding "Democrat" vs. "Democratic," I am here reposting my comments from the "Honor" post:
Communists belong to the Communist Party, not the Communistic Party; Socialists belong to the Socialist Party, not the Socialistic Party, Federalists belong to the Federalist Party, not the Federalistic Party, Unionists belong to the Unionist Party not the Unionistic Party, and Democrats belong to the Democrat Party, not the Democratic Party.
The Left has always usurped words in an attempt to change perspectives. George Orwell parodied this in "1984," where words frequently were made by the authorities to take on their exact opposite meaning. This is precisely what the Democrats have tried to do by using the word "Democratic" instead of "Democrat." Allow me to illustrate.
When I describe a set of behaviors that conforms to the political philosophy of socialism, I call them socialistic behaviors. When I describe a set of behaviors that are practiced by members of the Socialist Party, I call them Socialist behaviors. These may or may not be consistent with socialistic principles, but they definitely are consistent with Socialist principles. A specific case in point is the collective behavior (no pun intended) of the Communists in the old USSR, which definitely was Communist, but by no stretch communistic.
Similarly, democratic behavior, principles, concepts, etc., are not the purview of the Democrats (a political entity), but of societies that practice democracy (a political concept). In order to distinguish between the policies of a political party as opposed to the principles of a democratic society, by necessity, one uses "Democrat" for the first and "democratic" for the second.
In the written language, I will concede that one could use "Democratic" for the first and "democratic" for the second, and remain unambiguous – at least in principle, but the spoken language does not differentiate between upper and lower case words. If your intent, therefore, is to communicate clearly, then your choice is obvious.
On the other hand, if you wish to swindle the listener into confusing general principles of democracy with the policies of the Democrat Party, then you choose as have the Democrats, and the common person begins to lose the distinction between general democratic principles and Democrat Party policies.
This is just another version of "The Big Lie."
Now, C, you have made your point about these words (for what it's worth), and I have made mine. From this point forward, use whatever word you wish, so long as your meaning is clear from context. I will use the words I feel express my point best. Please refrain from further silliness regarding use of words, unless that is the subject of the post: the use of words in general, or specific words in particular.
And finally, regarding the good General: I would not presume to know what was in his mind, except what I can clearly surmise from his written words. I do know that he definitively stated he was neither Democrat nor Republican, and that his words should not be construed as supporting either party. Nevertheless, from the context of his words, I am able to draw certain conclusions.
Since he words were contained within a clearly partisan communication to the American public, I can conclude that, whether or not he so intended, they were partisan words. Because I am familiar with Gen. Odom's writings (and thus his thought process), I am relatively certain that he would not deliberately align himself with the Hillary/Biden/Obama clan. Thus, I can only conclude that he is naive in his assessment of how his words will be understood when they appear in the venue of a highly partisan national communication.
One more thing. Please explain to me how my words were pejorative? Do you feel I have belittled you? Did I belittled the General?
Read my comment again. I complimented the General on his intellect and past work, and suggested that he was naive in his present coziness with the Democrats. I don't have to be experienced at waging war to make this fairly obvious observation. On the other hand when you suggest that I have no place criticizing the General because he is more experienced at warfare than I, who is it being pejorative?
Sunday, May 6, 2007 11:43 AM
If the Left exhibits any consistency, it is in its persistent "spin," whenever it suits.
In our "private" communication, Collette, what actually happened was that you made some specific comments that I told you I wished to respond to publicly, and suggested that you publish them here. You refused, and I told you that whether or not you published your comments, I would respond to them. When you did not publish them, I posted sufficient of your words so that my comments could be seen in context. You never told me not to publish your words. What you said was that you would not publish them. You never said you didn't want them published either. You never objected to my statement that if you did not publish your words, I would respond to them anyway, which clearly implied that I would need to publish their essence in order to reply.
Like I said: SPIN.
Just last night I watched a CSPAN presentation of Mike Wallace and his journalist son Chris Wallace in an interesting discussion before a live audience. At one point, Mike commented about FOX News as: "It's not fair and balanced, it's right wing propaganda."
No matter that a majority of FOX News commentators/anchors are middle-of-the-road to left. No matter that of the two popular evening shows, O'Riley is centrist, and on Hannity & Colmes, both right and left are equally represented, and the guests of both shows cover the spectrum.
Like I said: SPIN (from the left).
Furthermore, the incredible arrogance of Mike Wallace to spin his statements about FOX News with an apparent presumption that anyone with an education would, perforce, agree with him.
When will you people learn that guys like myself and Jason are the only reason you can even be here, expressing your silly points of view and thinking you are the salt of the Earth. Without guys like us you would still be eating raw meat in primitive caves, or you would have been exterminated by the guys you apparently so admire.
So, give it a rest and try to see the world as it really is, rather than the way you want it to be. Take incoming data and fit your world perception to what you see, rather than adjust what you see to fit your world perception.
Like I said: SPIN!
Monday, January 5, 2009 8:02 AM
I have found this to be an interesting thread. First, because I served under Gen Odom's reign at NSA during my career with Naval Security Group (now a defunct command), and second, the back-and-forth you (whichever 'you' are, as the headers of each reply merely says "# Anonymous" - although after reading to the bitter end of this thread I managed to discern who was who).
And even though my comments are waaay behind, I just HAD to comment on your last from Sunday, May 06, 2007 11:43 AM, where you state "Without guys like us you would still be eating raw meat in primitive caves, or you would have been exterminated by the guys you apparently so admire."
My comment is: I truly believe that it would be the latter; 'would have been exterminated by the guys you apparently so admire.'
Due to the fact that this type of personality (liberal and radical Muslim) keeps re-appearing in society either confirms the concept of reincarnation, or there is some serious flaws in the gene pool.
Thanks for your indulgence-
Bob Sheck (CTMC, USN Ret.)
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