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Without Hesitation (2010)
- When I reached Fort Jackson, the NVA-Vietcong Tet offensive exploded across South Vietnam, with enemy forces attacking every provincial capital and major population center. There was plenty of grist for the news media to grind, especially when Vietcong sappers blasted a hole in the wall of the American embassy in Saigon and almost fought their way into the chancery building before being repulsed. It seemed that the enemy was everywhere, attacking U.S. and ARVN bases, ambushing relief convoys, overrunning isolated outposts. The remote Marine combat base at Khe Sanh in the misty mountains of northern I Cops was besieged for weeks, and the old citadel of the imperial capital of Hue was captured by NVA regulars. This only added more fuel to the antiwar, antidraft protests on America's campuses and streets. Just back from a fact-finding trip to Vietnam in late February, legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite commented, "WHo won and who lost the great Tet offensive against the cities? I'm not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout, but neither did we. The references of history may make it a draw... It seems now more certain that ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate." When President Lyndon Johnson heard the remarks, he said, "That's it. If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." Johnson chose not to run for reelection. The national mood was bleak.
- p. 80-81
- When President Bush came in, there as an immediate difference in style. President Bush would show up to meetings early. It was obvious that he liked the meetings to be well organized, crisp, and then get out of there. It was very organized, with little time for chitchat. Unlike President Clinton, President Bush attended almost all the NSC meetings, chairing them from the head of the table. Condoleezza Rice, his National Security Adviser, was very quiet in those meetings- seldom speaking at all, let alone chairing them. It wasn't for any lack of intellect, because she was extremely smart- and personable, too. I didn't think she really stepped into her own and flourished until she became Secretary of State; before that, she really took a backseat. Early on you saw in President Bush a man who was going to be very loyal to those who worked for him- perhaps even too loyal at times. If you were on his team he would battle to the death for you. While this seems like a commendable attribute, when you're in a position of leadership, I don't believe one should allow loyalty to trump the necessity of satisfactory job performance. I'm not sure ex-President Bush would agree with that.
- p. 414
- Just a few years ago, America was engaged in a war for survival, much like our current war to prevail against terrorism. The war I'm referring to is the Cold War, a war that America was engaged in for more than forty years- a war we finally won in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. This victory was followed by an immediate demand to reduce our armed forces as America had done after every major conflict in our history- WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. And so we set out on the same course- reducing the Army from 785,000 to today's 480,000, the Air Force from thirty-six to twenty tactical fighter wings, and the Navy from six hundred ships to approximately three hundred. Desert Storm caused a pause in downsizing, but as soon as it was over we continued at an even faster pace. All in all, we took more troops out than the entire armed forces of the UK, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands combined.
- p. 504
- Today we are still dealing with the aftermath of the Iraq operation to ensure that chaos does not reign and a bitter civil war among the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds does not end up providing Iran the excuse it's looking for to enter Iraq due to the threat to its border. That's exactly what the Middle East leaders in the countries throughout the region have feared since Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and many have expressed those concerns to me personally on multiple occasions.
- p. 505
- Perhaps my greatest concern is that we hold fast to maintaining the incredibly high standards that have made us the greatest country in the world. In doing so, I am confident that through hard work and diligence, we will meet any challenge and triumph over any enemy or obstacle in our path.
- p. 516