Asking the experts: Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, second from left, senior fellow at Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University tesitify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on "Iraq: Military Strategy" in Washington D.C. (AFP/Getty Images) Jan 18, 2007
Last Sunday, 3-star retired general William Odom wrote an influential piece for the Washington Post entitled, of all things, Victory is Not an Option. (Unbelievable!).
This past week (Thursday, to be precise), Hugh Hewitt interviewed retired Lt. General Odom. The retired Army Lt. General is a critic of the troop increase as well as of the Iraq War. Go here for just a sample of the exchange he had with Hugh Hewitt.
From Dean Barnett‘s analysis of Hewitt’s interview:
HH: Are you familiar with Mullah Yazdi?
HH: Or 12th Imam theology?
WO: No, I’m not.
What’s strange about these exchanges is that Odom fancies himself an expert on Iran but knows little (if anything) about the ruling class’ religious beliefs. This is significant; Iran is a theocracy where religious belief is law and dictates policy. And yet Odom seems to think that because he studied Iranian foreign policy for a 16 year window (ending over a decade ago) that his expertise and conclusions shouldn’t even be questioned. This is not just an obtuse conclusion, but a dangerously arrogant one.
Of course Ahmadenijad’s statements don’t alarm Odom. If Odom’s not familiar with the 12th Imam, it’s a safe surmise that he doesn’t know a blessed thing about the religious spirit that animates the Mullahocracy and has animated the Islamic Republic of Iran for the past three decades.
Ahmadenijad brings nothing new to the Iranian leadership in terms of his spiritual beliefs. Perhaps the General stumbled across the figure of Ayaotllah Khomeini while doing his study. If so, he would have discovered that religious insanity isn’t just a rhetorical matter for the Iranian government.
And one commenter on Hugh’s blogpost, Peter, writes the following in regards to Odom:
He actually thought through failure instead of success and presented that thinking as good military planning. There’s an old military test in two questions: "What do you do after you attack?" Answer" "Nothing". Question: "Why nothing?" Answer: "Because I never stop attacking."
I think we should come up with a new maxim, called "Odom’s Razor". I have two definitions in mind:
- 1) "Shave away all essential plans for victory to arrive at the quickest defeat possible"
- 2) "Never attribute to military experience, what can adequately be explained away to normal stupidity."
The first definition, of course, is a parodying of "Ockham’s razor". The second one, is my take on Hanlon’s razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." This is due to Odom’s puzzling use of the chickenhawk argument, thrown in at such a moment in the conversation, that makes me feel like the retired Lt. General was getting exasperated and uncomfortable with being confronted by the ideas Hewitt was putting forth; and lashed back with the kind of response that is juvenile, and designed to shut down debate.
All I have left to say after listening to the audio of the interview is, I am so glad that this three-star General is retired.
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.