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Posts Tagged ‘President John F. Kennedy’

The Mask Of Command — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Mask Of Command” (1987©), written by John Keegan.  Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE (Order of the British Empire) and FRSL (Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) was an English military historian, lecturer (at Sandhurst – the English equivalent of West Point) and writer.  Keegan is considered (in my opinion) one of the “modern” expert military historians. I understand his basic premise to be that conflict in general and war in specific is cultural and not necessarily an extension of political governance.  This is in contrast with Clausewitz who stated that war is politics by other means.  Keegan is criticized for “disagreement” with Clausewitz.
As a secondary aside, I started reading about military theory (“strategy”) back in my early 20’s when I began reading about generals (mostly Patton) and the works of B. H. Liddell Hart were recommended to me by a roommate.  I read Liddell Hart’s book: “Strategy: The Indirect Approach“, which I must say greatly influenced my life by profoundly changing my view of the world.  My hope was to learn about leadership by studying the great generals.  Instead, what I found was that leadership is not the same thing as strategy and is, instead, founded on the person and the time in history the person lives, whereas strategy tends to be principled and more timeless.
This realization pretty much ties into the basis for this book, which is a study of four “great” commanders / leaders and looks at what made three succeed and one (ultimately) fail terribly.  The three successful commanders are: Alexander the Great, Wellington, and U.S. Grant.  The failure is: Hitler.
Keegan’s proposal in this book is based on “heroic” aspects (“title”) of military leadership: heroic, anti-heroic, non-heroic, and fake heroic.  To do this, Keegan establishes the cultural climate of each commander and then tries to explain it’s (the culture’s) effect on the military leader via their proximity to combat and personal exposure to danger.  Essentially, for most of man’s history, muscle and physical courage were the requirement of military leadership.  As the age of gunpowder emerged, the risk to the commander increased and they were forced to withdrawal from danger and thus “military” leadership changed.  Alexander had to fight hand-to-hand to prove his courage while leading from the front; Wellington could stay within sight of his forces, but had to stay a minimal distance from accurate musket range; Grant could not frequently approach the front lines; and, Hitler never exposed himself to physical danger (with the exception of possible assassination) and used propaganda to convince his forces that he was a soldier battling at their side.
The book has five main chapters (one for each leader / type) and the last is about leadership in the age of nuclear weapons.  I found this the most fascinating (timely?) chapter of the book as it proposes a “new” type of post-heroic military / political leader and attempts to posit President Kennedy as this “ideal” leader.
While I found the book to be an interesting (sometimes fascinating) read, it was not an easy read.  Keegan loves his erudite words and his complicated phrasing of sentences.  The punctuation is “British” (I guess), and I found many times I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  Frequently, his sentences appeared to be declarative, but were, in fact, interrogatory (questions), or vice-versa, and you (“I”) couldn’t tell until you (“I”) hit the question mark or period at the end of the sentence.  Occasionally, even though I was aware of this writing style, Keegan still caught me off guard and I had to go back and try to figure out what he was on about.  Which means I knew it was happening, and anticipating it, but continued to find it distracting.
Other than this (quibble), I found the book to be quite enjoyable.  Keegan has a keen method of describing battles and you can sometimes feel yourself seeing the carnage and tasting the spent gunpowder in the air.  At less than 400 pages, it seems also to be a quick read, but I suggest not rushing head-long through it in one or two sittings as the book is widely considered to be a classic and deserves a bit of contemplation as well as enjoyment.
Final recommendation: highly recommended! This book is a classic for a reason…  The battlefield descriptions are superb and Keegan’s argument is well presented – even if not wholly convincing (to me, anyway).  Still, regardless if you are new to military history or a veteran of any military genre, I think you’ll enjoy this book.  There will, of course, be a few quotes from this book appearing on my blog in the coming weeks / months.
Two final thoughts: 1) I was not (am not) convinced President Kennedy is THE model for the post-heroic commander.  I found Keegan’s reporting on / analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis a bit simplistic.  And, 2) even if I had read this book on first printing, I doubt it would have influenced my world-view the way Liddell Hart’s book did.  Both are classics for any military reader, just different.  Just sayin’…
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On This Day In:
2019 #ContinueToResist
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2018 More Executive Time For #DumbDonald
2017 Watched The Inauguration
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2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
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2012 One Path
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2011 Emergent Practicality

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Below you will find the U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 489 condemning #45 for his racist remarks (on Twitter and in public speech)…   The Resolution appears as 1) individual images (click on them to enlarge them in your image viewer), 2) a link to the full PDF file (click on it to read the PDF in your viewer), and, finally, 3) the text of the Resolution…
Click on the following link to read the full pdf file in your reader: BILLS-116hres489ih

116TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION H. RES. 489

Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. MALINOWSKI submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on
RESOLUTION
Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.
Whereas the Founders conceived America as a haven of refuge for people fleeing from religious and political persecution, and Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison all emphasized that the Nation gained as it attracted new people in search of freedom and livelihood for their families;
Whereas the Declaration of Independence defined America as a covenant based on equality, the unalienable Rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and government by the consent of the people;
Whereas Benjamin Franklin said at the Constitutional convention, ‘‘When foreigners after looking about for some other Country in which they can obtain more happiness, give a preference to ours, it is a proof of attachment which ought to excite our confidence and affection’’;
Whereas President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, ‘‘Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists’’;
Whereas immigration of people from all over the Earth has defined every stage of American history and propelled our social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, artistic and technological progress as a people, and all Americans, except for the descendants of Native people and enslaved African-Americans, are immigrants or descendants of immigrants;
Whereas the commitment to immigration and asylum has been not a partisan cause but a powerful national value that has infused the work of many Presidents;
Whereas American patriotism is defined not by race or ethnicity but by devotion to the Constitutional ideals of equality, liberty, inclusion, and democracy and by service to our communities and struggle for the common good;
Whereas President John F. Kennedy, whose family came to the United States from Ireland, stated in his 1958 book ‘‘A Nation of Immigrants’’ that ‘‘The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life.  We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and entertainment.  There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background.  Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.’’;
Whereas President Ronald Reagan in his last speech as President conveyed ‘‘An observation about a country which I love’’;
Whereas as President Reagan observed, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors, and it is the Statue of Liberty and its values that give us our great and special place in the world;
Whereas other countries may seek to compete with us, but in one vital area, as ‘‘a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on Earth comes close’’;
Whereas it is the great life force of ‘‘each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed’’ through the 21st century and beyond and is part of the ‘‘magical, intoxicating power of America’’;
Whereas this is ‘‘one of the most important sources of America’s greatness: we lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation’’;
Whereas ‘‘thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge’’, always leading the world to the next frontier;
Whereas this openness is vital to our future as a Nation, and ‘‘if we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost’’;  and
Whereas President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color:  Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives —
1 (1) believes that immigrants and their descend-
2 ants have made America stronger, and that those
3 who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as
4 American as those whose families have lived in the
5 United States for many generations;
6 (2) is committed to keeping America open to
7 those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from vio-
8 lence and oppression, and those who are willing to
9 work hard to live the American Dream, no matter
10 their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin; and
11 (3) strongly condemns President Donald
12 Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and
13 increased fear and hatred of new Americans and
14 people of color by saying that our fellow Americans
15 who are immigrants, and those who may look to the
16 President like immigrants, should ‘‘go back’’ to
17 other countries, by referring to immigrants and asy-
18 lum seekers as ‘‘invaders,’’ and by saying that Mem-
19 bers of Congress who are immigrants (or those of
20 our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immi-
21 grants) do not belong in Congress or in the United
22 States of America.
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On This Day In:
2018 Young, Fun And Playing Well
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2013 Thar She Blows (Not)!
2012 Naturally
2011 Been Here, Done That
Remember
2010 Timeless Classics

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We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.
  —  John F. Kennedy
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On This Day In:
2018 Still More Prejudice
A Well Trod Path Of Hopes, Expectations And Surprise
2017 …And With It Civilization
2016 Just Like My Mother
2015 All Omissions Are Mine
2014 Precise Order
2013 Uh, No. Not Really…
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2012 A Pre-Valentine’s Day Message
2011 Easy Like Sunday Morning
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2010 Valleys and Peaks

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Every President must endure a gap between what he would like and what is possible.
   —  President John F. Kennedy
From the Foreword to “Decision-Making in the White House“, written by Theodore C. Sorensen
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On This Day In:
2016 Nor My Dogs
2015 Say What?
I’m A Dog, Too!
Beginnings
2014 Astonishing Choices
2013 Three Hard Tasks
2012 The Only Remains
2011 Personal Capability
What Price Failure?
Both Of W’s Elections
Tea (Baggers) Anyone?

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Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.
   —  John F. Kennedy
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On This Day In:
2016 Think Like A Hero
2015 Reductionism
2014 Gravitation, n.
2013 Ups And Downs
2012 Nerd Heard – And Good-Bye
Your Continuum
2011 Career Tips (Part 2)

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The loneliness of the President is another well-established truism of essays on the presidential process.  It is only part of the story; for, during the rest of the time, no one in the country is more assailed by divergent advice and clamorous counsel.  This advice and counsel, indeed, are essential to the process of decision; for they give the President not only needed information and ideas but a sense of the possibilities and the limitations of action.  A wise President therefore gathers strength and insight from the Nation.  Still, in the end, he is alone.  There stands the decision — and there stands the President.  “I have accustomed myself to receive with respect the opinions of others,” said Andrew Jackson, “but always take the responsibility of deciding for myself.”
   —  President John F. Kennedy
Quoted by: Theodore C. Sorensen
From the Foreword to his book:  “Decision-Making in the White House
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On This Day In:
2016 Compensation
2015 Charlie Redux
2014 The Crux
2013 Erosion And Rechannelling
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2012 How Many Thought… (One I Know Of)
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2010 A Second 4 Hour Jog

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For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
   —  John F. Kennedy
From his speech:  “Remarks on the 20th Anniversary of the Voice of America
26 February 1962
[Sometimes I wonder…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2013 Risking Truth
2012 Working On Reality
2011 Massive Contradictory Changes

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I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, human liberty as the source of national action, the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas.
  —  President John F. Kennedy
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On This Day In:
2013 Three Essentials
2012 Just Looking
2011 Religious Lessons
2010 View From Under The Bus… (A mid-term report card on the Obama Administration. Long, but still worth reading for historical perspective.)

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The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.
   —  President John F. Kennedy
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On This Day In:
2013 Again
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2011 Potter & Prejudice
Blink, Blink

 

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There are three things which are real: God, human folly and laughter.
The first two are beyond our comprehension.  So we must do what we can with the third.
  —    John F. Kennedy
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On This Day In:
2013 Mostly Unsound
2012 Malcontent
2011 What Have You Seen Lately?
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I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.
No single space project in this period will be more exciting, more impressive, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.
  —    President John Kennedy’s Address to Congress
May 25, 1961
[And having succeeded, we’ve now been over 40 years since mankind stepped on the moon (13 December 1972).  I hope I’m around to see a permanent station on the moon and a landing on Mars (and safe return).   —   KMAB]
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It is the fate of this generation to live with a struggle we did not start, in a world we did not make.  But the pressures of life are not always distributed by choice.  And while no nation has ever faced such a challenge, no nation has ever been so ready to seize the burden and the glory of freedom.
  —  John Fitzgerald Kennedy
[Tomorrow is national election day here in the United States.  By its very nature, every Presidential election is historic.  Tomorrow’s may be more so than normal, no matter which way it goes.  In any case, it is the obligation of a free people to exercise their right to be heard.  Tomorrow is YOUR chance to be heard.  But you will only be listened to if you actually vote.  Help make the world the place you want it to be…  VOTE!!  —  KMAB]
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If we succeed in this country, if we make this a great country to live in, if we reflect our vitality and energy and strength around the world, then the cause of freedom is strengthened.  But if we fail, all fail. If we stand still, freedom stands still.
  —  John F. Kennedy
[When a political party is willing to sacrifice the energy and strength and economy of our country in the cause of forcing a Presidential administration into failure, freedom itself is weakened.  I did not support many of the policies of Presidents Reagan, Bush I or II, but I would never have considered weakening the American workforce or forcing a default on the nation’s credit standing in order to bring down their administrations.  In my opinion, the only reason the actions of the current Republican Party (the GOP) over the last three plus years are not clearly treasonous, is because we are not engaged in a declared state of war.  I wonder how a Party which claims to love the country and our Constitutional form of government can act so recklessly to attempt to bring scorn on that very government.  —  KMAB]
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If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity.  For in the final analysis our most basic common bond is that we all inhabit this planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children’s future.  And we are all mortal.
   —   John F. Kennedy
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Let us resolve to be masters, not the victims, of our history, controlling our own destiny without giving way to blind suspicions and emotions.
  —   John Fitzgerald Kennedy
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