Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sad News - RIP Gen. William Odom

Our nation lost one its most distinguished and brightest public servants recently, Gen. William Odom, US Army, Ret.

Gen. Odom was a brainiac. With such intelligence and such dedication he could have done anything. He chose to be a soldier. His service to our republic was exemplary.

General Odom spoke truth to power. He did not "go with the flow" and was not a general that would "go along to get along." In other words, he would have been forced out during this administration. He was one of the finest general officers the US Army has ever produced.

As the Bush Administration continues to claim that "everybody" thought it was right to invade Iraq based on "the intelligence" they had at the time, Gen. Odom's words before we invaded show the lie that truly is:

“The issue is not whether the Iraqi people will greet U.S. soldiers as their liberators, but what will they do six months after that,” Mr. Odom told The Washington Post in February 2003. “I find it na├»ve and disingenuous to claim that you can create democracy in Iraq any time soon.

“The administration has already assured us that the U.S. will not stay there for very long,” he added, “and, if that is the case, then the goal of establishing a constitutional system in Iraq is a joke.”

....Mr. Odom was dismissive of Iraq as a potential threat to the United States. Once the war was under way, he argued that the United States was in effect fighting only for the interests of Iraq’s regional rivals, Israel, Iran and Al Qaeda.

The Odom family's service to our republic continues. I had the honor of serving under the command of Gen. Odom's son, LTC Mark Odom, the most outstanding and inspiring and dedicated officer I ever met.

Rest in Peace, General Odom. You have my gratitude for all you did to protect and defend the Constitution and the fine example you set for the soldiers of the United States Army. The Army was a better institution for your having worn that honored uniform.


Anonymous said...

A very fitting gesture. Thanks JD. William Odom would have been a good pair of eyes for his nation to have benefited from over the next say five months, not to mention the years ahead. Pity the nation.

Along that line, but separate:
I had a class with a small group of attractive Portuguese women office workers today, including top management and mid-levels. . .

Much interest in Obama of course, but also the vague feeling that something big is on its way. This group has been with me for a long time, have been exposed to a lot of strategic theory. Anyway, talking about the differences of gender, sexism, and the like, and the topic suddenly gets more basic. As in the current social system.

This is the best it's ever been but it is not sustainable, we're losing it . . . people won't want to give up their trinkets, so whoever promises to keep things going for them will be proclaimed "dictator" (the top manager´s word with the others nodding agreement). To which I said, "Daddy" and they nodded again. It might get that basic.

So that´s what it comes down to. America's experiment with Democracy and all that. We were expected to sell off our birthright for colored beads and trinkets. . . and we did it. Kinda brings things full circle . . . Not that most Americans would even sense it coming, might just take a "European" to tell ya that . . .


J.D. said...


Every nation has done foolish things. We had slavery, we had a huge insurrection called the Civil War, and we had "manifest destiny" that was simply aggressive expansionism.

But we also had our Revolution, the Civil Rights Struggle, the "good guys" won that Civil War, and we fought fascist Italy and Germany and Japan to the end.

So yes, the past 7+ years are a terrible stain on our republic, but not necessarily fatal. I fear the massive expansion of executive power, the abandonment of the rule of law, and the ease with which the right-wing convinced millions of Americans of things which were not true at all. I fear the anti-immigrant movement (every fascist movement needs an internal enemy, and they prefer them weak and "different" - Jews, Blacks, Commies, and now "illegal immigrants" - the weakest and least-threatening segment of our society).

But I also know that the vast majority of Americans feel our nation is seriously on the wrong track, that Bush lied, and that they despise him and what he stands for. McCain and the right-wing slime machine will do their best, but President Obama will be sworn in on January 20, 2009.

Democracy is not necessarily about making the right decisions, but about WHO makes those decisions. And while I feel that Bush stole the election in 2000, I also think he won in 2004 - criticize his tactics, but they worked. He won. We as a nation made a really bad decision. The strength of democracy isn't that better decisions are made, it is that the electorate can change their minds without blood in the streets. We can change.

And I think we have. That is why men like Gen. Odom served - because our system is worth it.

Portugal was a dictatorship until recently. Franco ruled Spain until his death. Sometimes, in every nation and every culture, the bad guys triumph. Throughout most of human history, it looks like the bad guys usually win.

But not always. And not here. Your attractive Portugese women assume that Americans are idiots because so many bought into the story told by Karl Rove.

The Carnation Revolution overthrew Salazar - but armed force was required. The Army had to help throw out the regime. Portugal's Constitution dates from 1976.

Ours is a little older, sir, and Bush will leave office because of the will of the people, and the soldiers of the US Army will not be part of that transition other than to march in the Inauguration Parade.

Our foolish flirtation with Fascism may be finally finished. We harmed ourselves and the world, and we are in mess, but WE - not the few, not the one, not some privileged plutocrats or corporate masters, but WE - will decide who our next President will be, what our Congress will look like, and what new direction our nation should turn as we turn away from the idiocy and evil of the Bush years.

I was surprised at the fragility of our freedoms, but the underlying strength of our system - rule by the People - appears to be finally winning the day.

basilbeast said...

Your eulogy brings this national figure, Gen. Odom, down to a personal level. I saw him several times offering testimony in Congress and read his opinions and heard his comments during interviews. A very welcome counterpoint to the crowd of Pentagon propagandists we heard about recently.

But this story is not just about the generals, it's still about the soldiers still in harm's way. There's a very grim story today in Time about the use of anti-depressants among our military in Iraq/Afghanistan and the rate of suicides.

As for our democracy, all things go in cycles, but at times the 2 x 4 method is necessary to remind us of who we are and meant to be.

I wish we could discuss McClellan more, I find his story fascinating. Richard Clarke was on KO's CountDown last night, and RC mentioned meeting McClellan. The conversation was on the recent revelation of the Senate committe's report on intelligence, which says quite frankly in politicalese that Bush and his people lied us into war.

At least it's now out there, part of our official record, and it may yet do some good over the summer.

At the end of the interview, Clarke noted that although great crimes and mistakes were committed by our leadership, and that we cannot allow them to slide back into private life without some payback, often the simple acknowledgement that harm was done with a request for forgiveness is all the American people need. McClellan asked that of Clarke when they met, and to me, that's one of the little moments of history gets tucked away into a footnote, but still hits in a personal way.


Anonymous said...


You misunderstood my meaning. The Portuguese were referring to the social system in general and Portugal specifically. Even here, where a large portion of the population remember the time before the 1974 revolution the seduction of "I'll promise you what you wish to hear" is simply too great.

Had lunch with a couple of Brit friends today and told them of that very same comment. "Very astute" was the response from the older friend who had marched to the US Embassy in London during the Vietnam War and had ever so many adventures in 1960s London. . . We agreed that it would only be easier in the US/UK. That is getting the people behind the "new order", the elite having given up on democracy long before imo.

I find your view overly optimistic, but understandable and even appealing, but not supported by our recent history. The resistance you mention is real, but nebulous and must overcome the massive propaganda apparatus in place. Obama becomes more pliant by the day, more acceptable to the same elite that led us to where we are now. By November the distinctions between our choices might not be so great, although I would not argue that it makes no difference, rather a distinction between the radical and the compliant. . .

William E. Odom died still believing there was hope.


David said...

Here is his last media appearance: