The Best Defense

Obama’s 2nd inaugural address: 'Peace in our time'? Really, Mr. President?

The WTF moment for me in Obama's second inaugural address, delivered Monday at noon, was his use of the phrase "peace in our time." This came during his discussion of foreign policy, and in such circles, that phrase is a synonym for appeasement, especially of Hitler by Neville Chamberlain in September 1938. What signal does his using it send to Iran? I hope he was just using it to jerk Netanyahu's chain.

I also simply didn't understand what he meant by "a world without boundaries." But my immediate thought was, No, right now we need boundaries -- like those meant to keep Iran out of Syria and Pakistan out of Afghanistan.

Two things I did like:

  • His emphasis on "the rule of law" in foreign policy. Now if we could officially renounce torture as U.S. government policy, and hold a truth commission on the issue. If only people who supposedly believe in the rule of law could bring the energy to this that they brought to Benghazi. 

Overall, I'd give it a C-. It wasn't a terrible speech, but I am grading on the curve because I have seen him do so much better. Overall, the rhetoric seemed tired, like second-rate Kennedyisms, which may reflect the pack of Hill rats and political hacks staffing the White House. It made me wonder if the president is depressed. I mean, I wouldn't blame him. But not a happy thought. 


The Best Defense

The pros at Journal of Military History check in with 2 reviews of 'The Generals'

The new issue of Journal of Military History carries two reviews of my new book.  One is by Edward Coffman, one of the grand old men of American military history, who calls The Generals "fascinating." His bottom line: "This is a well researched and written book which informs readers about the Army's command problems since the Korean War."

The other review is by Roger Spiller, a bit more of a military insider than Coffman, having taught for decades at Fort Leavenworth. I've read several of his books, and used one of them quite a lot in writing The Generals. I had expected him to do the "con" review to balance Coffman's. Rather, he also is complimentary. He says I have the reputation of being "the best American military correspondent since Hanson Baldwin." (I think he may need to check out the works of Peter Braestrup, C.J. Chivers, Sean Naylor, Dexter Filkins, and several other people.) His bottom line: "Ricks's assessment may well provoke discussion in official circles, but one might ask whether the leaders produced by the system are capable of reforming themselves."