What, no heroes?

The first Gulf War created three military celebrities: Powell, Schwartzkopf, and McCaffrey. That war went well: much better than most of us had expected.

The second Gulf War, now in its wind-down phase (let’s hope) also went much better than expected, with somewhat fewer Americans killed and incomparably fewer Iraqi soldiers and civilians killed, for a much more fundamental result. But none of the generals is a household word.

Who’s getting the credit for the war? Bush, with Rumsfeld second and Tommy Franks so far back you can barely see him.

I’d be interested in some expert thoughts on why that is so, and to what extent the White House deliberately kept the generals in the shade to focus the credit on the politicians.


A reader offers an answer: maybe it’s the generals who don’t want to be too closely associated with the war:

I think the difference this time is not so much the WH and Rummy keeping

the generals out of the spotlight as the generals wanting to put as much

distance between themselves and the SOD. Pay attention to Rummy’s press

conferences, notice how much brass he has around him, which, according to

friends I know in the E Ring is a sure sign that the top brass doesn’t

approve. They’d be crowding the cameras if they were happy with what’s

going on.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com