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May 30, 2004 - What Do You Owe Your Subordinates?

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Disagreements About The Nature of Leadership

What Do You Owe Your Subordinates?

Tom Clancy has some thoughts on that.



Here in May 23, 2004: What the former commanders are saying these days... you will find a discussion of the comments of retired Marine General Anthony Zinni.  He appeared on the CBS 60 Minutes show flogging his new book – and I quoted some of the CBS press release -


Accusing top Pentagon officials of "dereliction of duty," retired Marine General Anthony Zinni says staying the course in Iraq isn't a reasonable option.  "The course is headed over Niagara Falls.  I think it's time to change course a little bit or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course," he tells Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, May 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. 

The current situation in Iraq was destined to happen, says Zinni, because planning for the war and its aftermath has been flawed all along.  "There has been poor strategic thinking in this...poor operational planning and execution on the ground," says Zinni, who served as commander-in-chief of the U.S.  Central Command from 1997 to 2000. 

He blames the poor planning on the civilian policymakers in the administration known as neoconservatives who saw the invasion as a way to stabilize the region and support Israel.  He believes these people, who include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense, have hijacked U.S.  foreign policy.  "They promoted it and pushed [the war]...even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs.  Then they should bear the responsibility," Zinni tells Kroft. 

In his upcoming book, Battle Ready, written with Tom Clancy, Zinni writes of the poor planning in harsh terms.  "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption," he writes.  Zinni explains to Kroft, "I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and [in not] fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan."


The man is not a happy camper. 

But the real story, developing during the week, centers around his co-author and ghost writer, Tom Clancy.  That Clancy got in on this is the really odd thing.  The two have appeared together now on all the talk shows, and Clancy is as unhappy with the Bush team as Zinni. 


See this from CNN –

Tom Clancy wrestles with Iraq war
New book co-written with war critic Gen.  Anthony Zinni
Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Posted: 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)


NEW YORK (AP) -- A brand name author with many admirers in the military criticized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, citing it as proof that "good men make mistakes."

That same writer said he almost "came to blows" with a leading war supporter, former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle. 

The author is Tom Clancy. 

The hawkish master of such million-selling thrillers as "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October" now finds himself adding to the criticism of the Iraq war, and not only through his own comments. 

… In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Clancy and Zinni sat side by side in a hotel conference room in midtown Manhattan, mutual admirers who said they agreed on most issues, despite "one or two" spirited "discussions" during the book's planning. 

Zinni has openly attacked the war, but Clancy reluctantly acknowledged his own concerns.  He declined repeatedly to comment on the war, before saying that it lacked a "casus belli," or suitable provocation. 

"It troubles me greatly to say that, because I've met President Bush," Clancy said.  "He's a good guy.  ...  I think he's well-grounded, both morally and philosophically.  But good men make mistakes."

'These are good guys'


Yeah, but Clancy thinks they are a bunch of bumbling idiots, it seems.  Nice guys.  But idiots. 

Well, that’s too broad.  Clancy thinks the Bush crew doesn't exactly know what real leadership is. 

This all is a direct claim that Bush and his crew are unqualified to lead us.  There’s no ambiguity.  Clancy has left the building, so to speak. 

Golly, when you lose Tom Clancy you may be in deep trouble.  Bush is probably not happy.  Clancy dedicated "The Hunt for Red October" to Ronald Reagan, after all.  Things are changing. 

And the other hand, Bush doesn't read much, so he might not even know who Tom Clancy is. 

So, what’s up with this? 

Here’s Clancy explaining –


"In the movies, military leaders are all drunken Nazis," said Clancy, who has worked on books about retired Gen.  Chuck Horner, who led U.S.  Central Command Air Forces during the Gulf War, and retired Gen. Carl Stiner, whose missions included the capture of Panama leader Manuel Noriega. 

"In fact, these are very bright people who regard the soldiers and Marines under them as their own kids.  I thought the people needed to know about that.  These are good guys, and smart guys."


And that’s the problem. 

To a military leader, those who follow your command are your responsibility.  You have their lives in your hands.  They become your family, and yes, maybe like you own kids.  You don’t use them as game pieces. 

That is exactly why Clancy likes Zinni.  Zinni knows that.  They both know that. 


… even as an envoy, Zinni spoke out against invading Iraq, regarding it as disastrous for Middle East peace and a distraction from the war against terrorism.  On Monday, he said getting rid of Saddam Hussein was not worth the price. 

"He's a bad guy.  He's a terrible guy and he should go," Zinni said.  "But I don't think it's worth 800 troops dead, 4,500 wounded -- some of them terribly -- $200 billion of our treasury and counting, and our reputation and our image in the world, particularly in that region, shattered."


In short?  This was a stupid war, with awful consequences. 

And the real sin (if that is the right word) is not taking care of our guys. 

This week, in many places, Clancy is relating a prewar encounter in Washington during which he "almost came to blows" with Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser at the time and a longtime advocate of the invasion. 


"He was saying how (Secretary of State) Colin Powell was being a wuss because he was overly concerned with the lives of the troops," Clancy said.  "And I said, 'Look ..., he's supposed to think that way!' And Perle didn't agree with me on that.  People like that worry me."


They should.                    


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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