Rotation and Victory

It has been announced recently that John Abizaid, our top general in Iraq, will retire early next year.  By all accounts, Abazaid is now and has been an exemplary soldier, a servant of the Republic.  But.....a thought does occur in the mind of the citizen/observer - does nobody see it as his role to win the war in Iraq? 

What is going on with all this rotation?   Our ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad is apparently preparing to rotate out of his assignment in Iraq.  What can this rotation say about our seriousness to Iraqis, whose very lives depend on us?  Is this the way any serious problem in human affairs has ever been successfully addressed?  Did Caesar rotate out from Gaul?  Did Einstein rotate out from the Theory of Relativity?  Did Robert Oppenheimer rotate out from developing the atomic bomb?  Did Salk rotate out from creating the polio vaccine?

Whatever objective rotation may have in sharing leadership slots or career development, what does it say about our seriousness?  Jack Welch was made president of General Electric in his early 40's so that he would have a 20-year tenure at the top.  When he retired, he picked a successor - Jeffrey Immelt - who was in his early 40's for the same reason.  Bill Gates has been running Microsoft for 30 years and only just now retired.  Andy Grove was president of Intel for 20 years.  These companies are outstanding successes.  Rotation has not been part of that success. 

Did George Washington rotate out?  Did Ulysses Grant rotate out?  Did Chester Nimitz rotate out?  Did George Patton rotate out?  Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain at 65 and during the war suffered a heart attack and an almost fatal bout of pneumonia.  Did he rotate out?  Is it even conceivable that he would have rotated out?  Death was at FDR's elbow in the 1944 election.  Did he rotate out?  Do any of us rotate out from our own lives, our careers, taking care of our families? 

The war in Iraq is a matter of high consequence to the United States of America.  It is a mission from which we should expect our legates to come back "with their shield or on it."  That is certainly the mission that our soldiers are committed to.  Many of them leave parts of their bodies behind for the mission. 

Given what we all know about the subtleties of human affairs, knowledge of local customs and circumstances, experience with who is reliable and who isn't, how can we expect that we can win if we rotate out our people who acquire that wisdom?  Yes, if we have people who cannot accomplish the mission, we must get rid of them and put in people who can.  That is the iron task of those charged with the great affairs of state.  But that is not rotation. 

Did Churchill say: "We shall fight them on the beaches and the landing fields.  We shall fight them in the hills and the towns.  But I am rotating out.  Best of luck."  No.

If the war is seen as a process, then rotation makes sense, as a process.  If the war is seen as victory then rotation is seen as the essential unseriousness that it is.  If you are going to rotate, you are a tourist.  Simple as that.  You simply don't count.  Victory demands commitment - "to the end" as Churchill used to say.  That is the first thing that Bush, in the captain's chair, needs to change.  Our leaders in Iraq must be there for the duration.  If that is beyond their capability, then they should find another line of work.  No matter how impressive they may be superficially, if they don't have the hardihood to be committed for the duration they are of no use to us.

Greg Richards is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.
It has been announced recently that John Abizaid, our top general in Iraq, will retire early next year.  By all accounts, Abazaid is now and has been an exemplary soldier, a servant of the Republic.  But.....a thought does occur in the mind of the citizen/observer - does nobody see it as his role to win the war in Iraq? 

What is going on with all this rotation?   Our ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad is apparently preparing to rotate out of his assignment in Iraq.  What can this rotation say about our seriousness to Iraqis, whose very lives depend on us?  Is this the way any serious problem in human affairs has ever been successfully addressed?  Did Caesar rotate out from Gaul?  Did Einstein rotate out from the Theory of Relativity?  Did Robert Oppenheimer rotate out from developing the atomic bomb?  Did Salk rotate out from creating the polio vaccine?

Whatever objective rotation may have in sharing leadership slots or career development, what does it say about our seriousness?  Jack Welch was made president of General Electric in his early 40's so that he would have a 20-year tenure at the top.  When he retired, he picked a successor - Jeffrey Immelt - who was in his early 40's for the same reason.  Bill Gates has been running Microsoft for 30 years and only just now retired.  Andy Grove was president of Intel for 20 years.  These companies are outstanding successes.  Rotation has not been part of that success. 

Did George Washington rotate out?  Did Ulysses Grant rotate out?  Did Chester Nimitz rotate out?  Did George Patton rotate out?  Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain at 65 and during the war suffered a heart attack and an almost fatal bout of pneumonia.  Did he rotate out?  Is it even conceivable that he would have rotated out?  Death was at FDR's elbow in the 1944 election.  Did he rotate out?  Do any of us rotate out from our own lives, our careers, taking care of our families? 

The war in Iraq is a matter of high consequence to the United States of America.  It is a mission from which we should expect our legates to come back "with their shield or on it."  That is certainly the mission that our soldiers are committed to.  Many of them leave parts of their bodies behind for the mission. 

Given what we all know about the subtleties of human affairs, knowledge of local customs and circumstances, experience with who is reliable and who isn't, how can we expect that we can win if we rotate out our people who acquire that wisdom?  Yes, if we have people who cannot accomplish the mission, we must get rid of them and put in people who can.  That is the iron task of those charged with the great affairs of state.  But that is not rotation. 

Did Churchill say: "We shall fight them on the beaches and the landing fields.  We shall fight them in the hills and the towns.  But I am rotating out.  Best of luck."  No.

If the war is seen as a process, then rotation makes sense, as a process.  If the war is seen as victory then rotation is seen as the essential unseriousness that it is.  If you are going to rotate, you are a tourist.  Simple as that.  You simply don't count.  Victory demands commitment - "to the end" as Churchill used to say.  That is the first thing that Bush, in the captain's chair, needs to change.  Our leaders in Iraq must be there for the duration.  If that is beyond their capability, then they should find another line of work.  No matter how impressive they may be superficially, if they don't have the hardihood to be committed for the duration they are of no use to us.

Greg Richards is a frequent contributor to American Thinker.