Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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Our New Secretary of Defense
In light of President-elect Trump’s choice, subject to congressional waiver, of General James Mattis as the nation’s next Secretary of Defense, we are reprinting a July 27, 2013 post concerning Mattis’ visit to the College:
When I was a student, General William Westmoreland came to the College to deliver a lecture. I don’t recall his subject, but Spaulding was filled, and with Vietnam fresh in everyone’s mind — Saigon had fallen in 1975 — the Dartmouth crowd was primed for protest and even revenge. “Westy” wore a plain gray suit, but he spoke with military rigor. That was the day I learned about the armed forces’ concept of “command presence.” The crowd did its worst, but Westmoreland had faced tougher. His resolve, cool, and steely belief in himself were impressive.
I expect that Dartmouth will be in for a taste of the same when General James Mattis, the retired commander of U.S. Central Command, visits the College from September 18 through October 7. Even if the idea of the U.S. military is abhorrent to you, take time out to listen to the General. You will see an individual of a character that rarely graces our campus.
Addendum: General Mattis — nom de guerre “Mad Dog” — has a quick wit. He is renowned in the Corps for pungent expression. My favorite line, which fits in well with some of this space’s recent themes:
“When Gen. Abrial arrived to relieve me as the supreme commander, only don’t ask, don’t tell kept me from hugging and kissing him.”
A few others:
“In this age, I don’t care how tactically or operationally brilliant you are, if you cannot create harmony—even vicious harmony—on the battlefield based on trust across service lines, across coalition and national lines, and across civilian/military lines, you need to go home, because your leadership is obsolete. We have got to have officers who can create harmony across all those lines.”
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
Addendum: A contrary opinion about “Westy.”
Westmoreland may have had command presence, but he was not an example of excellence in most other regards. I have many West Point graduate ancestors going back literally to its founding who commanded troops (and sometimes armies) in every major conflict. Westmoreland is a punchline in my family. He was very low in his class ranking at WP. He was not a good leader or strategist. My father, who knew him, could go on and on about his limitations. That he got to the level of command he did is an indictment of promotion practices in the army.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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