by William S. Lind
"During World War II, one of the Fuhrer's favorite sayings was, "All generals lie." Today, Washington prefers the word "spin" to lie, although the difference is often difficult to parse. As an 18th-century man, I prefer an 18th century word: puffery. If we consider some of the statements coming from our military leaders regarding the war in Iraq, we might think they are all clones of General Puff.
We expect puffery from politicians. But when Gen. Puff represents the military to the American people, the military puts itself in a dangerous situation. The loss of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will, at some point, have domestic political repercussions, perhaps of some magnitude. The U.S. military will rightly bear some of the blame for both failures. It cannot credibly claim that it was forced to fight two Fourth Generation wars with Second Generation tactics and doctrine, when it has rebuffed every effort to move beyond the Second Generation (the Marine Corps is a partial exception).
But the American people, I think, will be more forgiving of mistakes than of puffery, which in the end is a deliberate attempt to deceive. If the public comes to think that all generals lie, the American armed services may find it difficult to reestablish their good reputations."