The Best Defense

One way the Pakistani government resembles the Bush administration

Both had senior officials who apparently outed a CIA officer.

Meanwhile, the polo players of Lahore are doing their part for the less fortunate. I get the creepy feeling that America is becoming more and more like Pakistan. It reminds me of something I heard around 2003:

You Americans think you are going to make the Middle East more like you … but I think we will make you more like us."


The Best Defense

A Best Defense salute to the U.S. Army's Military History Institute

I spent most of last week working at the Army's Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. For me it was like going to Disneyland, going through handwritten notes from the field about meetings with Patton and such. On top of that, the institute's staff was both informed and friendly. If the entire federal government were this helpful, we'd all be better off.

I found a letter by Lt. Gen. Ridgway about Gen. MacArthur that I have never seen quoted before. I think it really illuminates the relationship. I also read a very cranky letter from Ridgway to Lt. Gen. Gavin. Some bad blood there.

I read Maj. Gen. Terry de la Mesa Allen's bewildered letters to his wife, scrawled in pencil on lined paper, during the week after he was fired as commander of the 1st Infantry Division in Sicily in the summer of '43.

I pored through Marine message logs from the Chosin Reservoir campaign, got a deeper understanding of the Korean War overall, and sampled the institute's wonderful collection of obscure military history books. Did you know that the expression "going blooey" (that is, falling apart) comes from the chateau at Blois, France, where the U.S. Army shipped its fired officers during World War I?

As a bonus, the people you run into there are terrific. One of the high points for me was having lunch with Henry Gole, author of my favorite book about the Vietnam War. His book is what many people think A Bright Shining Lie was -- that is, the classic tale of the Vietnam tragedy. Several hallway conversations there gave me a bunch of ideas for the book I'm working on. The week shot by and I was sorry to have to leave.

U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center/Matthew B. Ridgway Collection