It has been eight days since Marine Corps Commandant and Joint Chiefs of Staff member General James Amos spoke out against the current lack-of-leadership climate in Washington.
Specifically, in a question-and-answer session at the Brookings Institution on July 15 (PDF transcript here), Amos noted how badly the situation in Iraq has deteriorated since U.S. troops' departure in 2010, and questioned whether it would have happened if there had been "the right leadership, the right mentoring, the right government and courage" in place. This was a de facto callout of the Obama administration for failing to consolidate and secure the victory achieved in 2008. If this kind of criticism occurred during a Republican or conservative administration, it would be front-page news. Instead, a Google News search on "Amos Iraq" (not in quotes) returns roughly 10 relevant items, and the Associated Press has nothing relevant. The video and a transcript of Megyn Kelly's related interview of Oliver North Monday evening follow the jump.
Here is the video (HT to a longtime emailer):
MEGYN KELLY: Well, also developing tonight, it is almost unheard of for a Marine officer, let alone a member of the Joint Chiefs, to openly criticize the White House.
But the nation's top Marine, General James Amos, appeared to go after the Commander-in-Chief last week, suggesting (that) the disaster of a developing terrorist state in Iraq could have been avoided, if only we had done things differently. Listen:
GENERAL JAMES AMOS: I just, I find it hard to believe knowing how Iraq looked when we left in 2010, when we left, the Marines, and then what it looked like when the last, uh, U.S. forces left, that we would be in the position we’re in today in Iraq had we had the right forces, the right leadership, the right mentoring, the right, uh, government, uh, courage.
KELLY: "Courage" was the last word. Colonel Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" and author of the new book, "Counterfeit Lies."
This is extraordinary. Explain to the audience who he is and why this is so unusual.
OLIVER NORTH: General Amos is the Commandant of the Marine Corps, he's the senior Marine, and it's about time somebody in Washington stood up on their hind feet and told everyone what they know to be true.
It's very clear that General Amos — and by the way, I, he is a friend, I've not spoken to him about this, knowing we were going to talk about it. So I don't want to drag him down with me. But let us make an observation, Megyn: it's not just about Iraq. It's about the abysmal state of our military and General Amos's Marines.
He doesn't specifically talk about the President. He's talking about national leadership, and he has sure embarrassed the dickens out of Dempsey and the other members of the Joint Staff.
He realizes that the finest military that's ever existed on this earth is being systematically dismantled, and we're calling them all home and throwing them out of the service.
For the very first time since the American Revolution, every single American in a uniform of the armed forces of the United States is a volunteer. If we can't retain today the quality of the force that we're going to need tomorroww, we won't be able to protect our citizens or our interests around the globe.
So what he said is very important. It was all done at a Brookings Institution question-and-answer period. It was not an off-mic accident. He knew that that mic was on. He sent a very clear message about the need for strategy, retaining right people in our military. And what most needs to be done is standing up for America's interests. The leadership of the nation needed to pay attention to this.
KELLY: And talking about the absence of leadership, the absence of courage, and then he went on to talk about – we have this clip – about how, he suggested the President has, or the leadership, has a naïve worldview. Listen:
GENERAL AMOS: ... we may think we’re done with all these nasty, thorny, tacky little things that are going on around the world. And I’d argue if you are in that nation, or you’re in part of that, it’s not a little tacky little thing for you, we may view it on this side of the Atlantic or the Pacific. It’s a big deal for them. But we may think we’re done with them, but they’re not done with us.
KELLY: is he going to get in trouble for this, Colonel?
NORTH: Well, it probably means he's not going to get a high-paying job on some big poobah corporate board when he gets done. Senior officers on active duty rarely ever speak this way. I can think of MacArther to Truman. I can think of Major General Jack Singlaub, who actually resigned his commission and then spoke about abandoning Korea to President Carter. But he had already retired. He resigned his commission to make that speech.
Look at — on Iraq, everyone paying attention now realizes that Obama should have taken the trouble to negotiate that Status of Forces agreement. And what's now happening in Mesopotamia is awful for those who had to fight there. He starts talking about that, and he means it. Because his Marines took a terrible blow fighting in Iraq for all those years, seven-plus years. And we're not going to have the ability to influence events if we keep cutting our defense budget.
It's unconscionable in this very dangerous world. And I — Kudos, as I say, to General Amos for speaking this way. He knows that diplomacy only works if it's backed up by military prowess and a strong economy. And today we have neither.
KELLY: He also talked about the growing concern about these troops who sacrificed so much becoming disillusioned as their gains disappear. Col. Oliver North, thank you sir. Good to see you.
NORTH: My pleasure. Thanks, Megyn.
The one post I found from the left side of the aisle on Amos's speech was at the Huffington Post, where "Foreign Policy Analyst" Michael Hughes claimed that the "jihadists ... very existence (in Iraq) can be credited to the U.S. military invasion and occupation of same country in 2003." Demonstrating that very few are paying attention to such drivel any more at the supposedly high-traffic web site, Hughes's post has a grand total of 18 comments — only one of which was supportive.
Despite the almost unheard-of nature of Amos's critique, it's not news — proving yet again that the establishment press is far more interested protecting their President than in doing their jobs.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.