Politicans, dictators start wars; generals fight them
Soldiers like Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis are hard to find because they are straightforward, no-nonsense guys.
But not being tactful can get them in trouble. World War II hero Gen. George C. Patton was like that.
Today, Gen. Mattis is drawing criticism for his off-the-cuff remarks, as did Gen. Patton during World War II.
His contemporaries call Gen. Mattis one of the best military leaders, just as Gen. Patton was in his time.
Gen. Mattis, like Gen. Patton, is a soldier that most people would want to stand between them and an enemy combatant.
His attitude about these people who deserve to be killed, however, landed him in trouble because he expressed himself in a barbaric manner.
"Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling," Gen. Mattis is quoted as saying.
We can understand that killing an enemy who is trying to kill your soldiers can give a general immense satisfaction, but it should hardly be classified as fun.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered a mild but appropriate public rebuke.
"All of us who are leaders have a responsibility in our words and our actions to provide the right examples all the time for those who look at us for leadership."
Civilized people don't see war as fun.