Seems that way back in the American Civil War (ACW), that a group of busy-body Senators and Congressmen thought they knew better than the President, or the Generals, in how to run the War. They went so far as to write directly to the President to encourage him to change strategy, and dump a bunch of Generals, in essence calling them “war criminals” (in a modern sense of the term). Funny how some people never learn isn’t it?
Now who says the political spin machine is a modern concept? Take this bit from the letter in question:
“We are also concerned about reports that you have appointed General U.S. Grant as your new commander. General Grant has a controversial reputation–especially his personal habits. We are particularly outraged over reports that General Grant said he intended to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer! You do not have that much time, and Grant’s remarks are an admission of failure.”
Sound familiar? Change Grant to Petraeus or anyone else that has either commanded in Iraq, Afghanistan, or held the over all CENTCOM command chair, and it could have come from the likes of Clinton, Obama, Boxer, or Kennedy. and this was in the days when the only source of news for the general public was newspapers. No instant gratification from the 24 hour mass media news cycle.
Or how about this bit?
“We have consulted closely with major military authorities, and they oppose your decision. Generals McDowell, Burnside, and Pope unanimously agree that a surge of troops under Grant will fail. While they say that a year or so ago they could have used more troops, they believe that it is now too little and too late. General Pope said that his campaign suffered from poor intelligence provided by your Pinkerton Service.”
How many people know who Pope, McDowell, or Burnside is today? Other than ACW buffs that is. While at the time they were “big names,” only Burnside had anything more to do following the ACW (he “observed” the Franco-Prussian War with Sherman), the others have been dustbinned by history. But you can substitute any of the talking heads we see and hear today for those three Generals. Oh, and change Pinkerton to CIA.
Now here’s where it gets a bit more in tune with “modern” thought:
“We urge you to reconsider, and to adopt the plan we have carefully crafted as follows:
(1) Withdraw General Sherman’s army of arsonists from Georgia and the Carolinas.
(2) Withdraw General Sheridan’s marauding troops from the Shenandoah.
(3) Pull General Grant and his huge army back to the defense of Washington.
All of this could begin now and finish in four months.”
Carefully crafted? A three line plan is “craefully crafted?” This could have been uttered by Hillary Clinton yesterday. Oh wait…
But the real stickler here is the descriptions of Sherman, Sherridan, and the forces they commanded. Sound familiar Mr. Murtha?
And lastly there’s this:
“Finally, you should open negotiations with Britain, France, and Canada. True, they are supporting the southern states, but they could use their influence to stop buying cotton, restrict the French troops in Mexico, and wipe out the hotbed of sedition in Canada.
If you do all of the foregoing, we believe you could negotiate an acceptable outcome with Mr. Jefferson Davis.”
It’s that last line that’s a killer. I’ll let people got to the original post to see Lincoln’s response to that idea, it’s worth a read. But doesn’t this sound terribly familiar yet again? Replace France, Britain, and Canada with Syria, Iran, and North Korea. Replace Jefferson Davis with your choice of Osama bin Laden, Ahmadeinejad, or Kim Il-Jong (or is it Il-Sung? I forget), and this could have been a campaign speach from Barack Obama. Oh wait…