Being Humble During a War

The New Yorker.  A lesson of humility.  An excellent article.  Dwight Eisenhower said:

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends.

Conceivably a commander may have been professionally superior. He may have given everything of his heart and mind to meet the spiritual and physical needs of his comrades. He may have written a chapter that will glow forever in the pages of military history. Still, even such a man—if he existed—would sadly face the fact that his honors cannot hide in his memories the crosses marking the resting places of the dead. They cannot soothe the anguish of the widow or the orphan whose husband or father will not return.

The only attitude in which a commander may with satisfaction receive the tributes of his friends is in the humble acknowledgment that no matter how unworthy he may be, his position is the symbol of great human forces that have labored arduously and successfully for a righteous cause.

Bush should remember that this is concept he had once espoused.  The preening and strutting Bush exiting a helicopter and saluting a Marine is a sight to behold.  Another telling blow:

Our most wrenching diplomatic trials lately have been with the French, and yet President Bush has not spoken to President Chirac in the past six weeks.

[John Robb's Radio Weblog]

I have two points to make about this post by John Robb/New Yorker. There is a saying, “You are either part of solution or part of the problem.” I am pretty sure that George W. feels that President Chirac was part of the problem. The US-France relationship can be mended in time but these two leaders need some time apart. This works for George since he is pretty busy right now. It is obvious that the US does not agree with Europe on this issue and several others. This is not news but we tend to forget.

The second point is about the difficultly with expressing humility during a war. The quote by Eisenhower was made after the war. A safe time to be humble. During a war it is very difficult for a leader to express humility in such a way that it does not affect the confidence and morale of the soldiers. If a leader makes a mis-speaks and damages the confidence of the soldiers, men die. I can feel the confusion settle in as the fog of war creeps ashore here. I can only imagine what the commanders are going through. I pray to God to give them strength to deal with the fog of war, the self-confidence to express the humility they must feel, and the wisdom to do to express it in a way they will lift the spirits of their fellow soldiers.