It might be a great idea for both future Republican and Democrat administrations (and any conceivable third party administrations as well) to name a retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to be our Secretary of State. Please understand that this is not because a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would be pro-war. Anyone who has had combat experience is definitely not pro-war. Those with combat experience know with every cell of their being that when a war breaks out, it will be those in the services who will be doing the bleeding and the dying. Just ask any soldier, in any army, from any nation on the planet, if they are in favor of a bloody war. There would be a thunderous reply of not merely “NO!”, but “Hell, no!”
Not so the usual Ivy League graduate who never served a day in uniform but rather entered the Department of State, and spent their entire lives with protocol as their major concern, along with being well dressed and speaking mellifluously without saying a single word that’s worth remembering.
The reason for a retired Chairman to run the State Department is that it would be useful, and potentially very productive to have someone who has actually heard the wheet of a bullet going past his head sitting at the table for a peace conference. While I, and hundreds of thousands of my brothers were enjoying the thrill of being in the sultry paradise of Viet Nam, those who were attending the peace conference in Paris were suffering the intense cruelty of being denied out of season oysters for an appetizer. That was the real hell, at least in their minds, not war.
William Tecumseh Sherman would be a wonderful example of the kind of war leader to sit at a peace conference. Or perhaps General Norman Schwartzkoff. Neither exudes the “Yeah, I wear a uniform, but I’m really a politician” penumbra.
Everyone else sitting around that table would recognize that the person representing the United States of America was the type that you really didn’t want to cross — or meet in a dark alley somewhere. Each peace talk participant’s subconscious would be telling them, in no uncertain terms, that not offering to compromise with such a person could be a serious, perhaps even deadly, mistake.
No matter how reasonable our Secretary of State sounded, no matter how rational his position might be, there would be the subliminal message of unrestrained force to back up their mild words and modest proposals. When the person sending that subliminal message actually has “walked-the-walk” and not merely “talked-the-talk”, the reality of the situation would suddenly leap into a crystal clear picture of the possible alternatives to intransigence on the part of the other participants. Just think how much more productive future peace talks would be.