Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Washington DC...the Potomac...and a Great General's Demise
What an interesting day in Washington DC. A great General in American history has been seconded to the sidelines and forced to step aside…and another…more politically correct one has been called in to take his place.
I had the pleasure and distinction of serving for then Colonel McChrystal at Ft Bragg, North Carolina back in the mid 1990's. Besides being a considerate and compassionate soldier he was also a statesman and scholar…one of the finest and most brilliant officers our Nation (and West Point) has ever produced. His operational forte and his mannerisms were the stuff of legend…and many an officer can say that they learned directly from his actions. His second in command (a Brigadier General from Ft Bragg) was at the finish line last year when I completed the Army Ten Miler...we talked for a few minutes and he stated that working for "the Man" was the most rewarding assignment he ever had.
My cousin chatted with me online today…the question was what do I think about the McChrystal issue…I responded then as I do now…with a simple statement…”General McChrystal does not do ANYTHING without fully understanding the implications of his actions.”
Some will ponder why he said the things he said and why he allowed the men serving under him to mock the civilian chain of command back in Washington…again…General McChrystal does not do anything without fully understanding the implication of his actions…or his words.
Now while all this is going on I had the great pleasure of watching the movie Munich over the past 48 hours. It is a breathtaking piece that shows the primal aspect that resonates in all of us when we feel we are done wrong…revenge.
For those of you who have never watched this cinematic effort, it is about a group of Israeli assassins who scour the world killing those responsible for planning the 1972 Olympic Games massacre. More importantly…and based on what has transpired with General McChrystal…the movie graphically demonstrates that the Israeli Mossad and the beloved Golda Maier did not place politics above doing what was right. It’s a lesson that this and other Administrations will need to learn in going forward in the War on Terror!
The film transcends the current Israeli-Palestinian feud and focuses on the kidnapping of 11 Israeli athletes at the hands of several Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. All 11 athletes and most of their captors were killed in a botched rescue attempt by the German GSG-9 Counter-terrorism Force.
This movie is not as much about reenacting the tragic events, but instead focuses on the Israeli government's secret decision to bring a group of five men together to travel around Europe and assassinate the men responsible for planning the attack. The men proceed with the killings, working off a list of names without any knowledge as to how involved each man was with the Munich massacre. As time goes on, they begin to question their killings - after all, what is the difference between assassination and murder? Was the evidence conclusive that these men were involved? Does the killing of eleven men really do anything for the Israeli state?
The cast assembled for this movie is first rate. Eric Bana, best known as a loner in Blackhawk Down leads other renowned actors including Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Geoffrey Rush. Bana is fantastic and he successfully pulls off a character who is wrestling with the construct of revenge. He believes what he is doing has to be done, but at the same time he is killing men he doesn't know out of revenge for his country.
The movie is powerful and moving…and very long! For those from the intelligence community you can relate between the powerful covert action and suspense to long sequences of contemplation and discussion. While the "good guys" are Israelis, the movie's intention is to show that this constant fighting and killing will lead no where except to more fighting and killing...and that is the problem with revenge…it really never leads anywhere. The movie never takes away from the outright tragedy that was Munich, but at the same time it does not defend Israel in its supposed right to kill off anyone who knew anything about the attack or posed a threat to the state.
I am sure the internet as well as the country will be abuzz over the next several days based on what has happened in DC today…suffice to say…I will wait on the book…if the comments captured in the Rolling Stone article are any indication look for a title such as …”Afghanistan…and the Weenies in the White House” … in the interim buy or rent Munich... it’s well worth viewing.