A great article by Peggy Noonan on the Marines in San Diego. A marine plane was going down, the pilot ejected at the last minute, the plane went into a house and killed three people.
It happens. It’s terrible. And then the Marines investigated. They found incompetence and failure. They punished ALL of them. And Peggy makes the correct and important point: Actually, a navy pilot made it and told her about it:
The day after the report I heard from a young Naval aviator in predeployment training north of San Diego. He flies a Super Hornet, sister ship to the plane that went down. He said the Marine investigation “kept me up last night” because of how it contrasted with “the buck-passing we see” in the government and on Wall Street. He and his squadron were in range of San Diego television stations when they carried the report’s conclusions live. He’d never seen “our entire wardroom crowded around a television” before. They watched “with bated breath.” At the end they were impressed with the public nature of the criticism, and its candor: “There are still elements within the government that take personal responsibility seriously.” He found himself wondering if the Marines had been “too hard on themselves.” “But they are, after all, Marines.”
Yes. They are, after all, Marines. This is one more example of a superior organization at work. Being the father of Marines is an intense experience, especially when your son is in combat, but the pride that goes along with the anxiety is like none other, because you know that he’s one of the very best this society can produce, and he’s fighting alongside others like him, and commanded by others of the same ilk.
If we’re going to get through this bad patch, this is the sort of model that must inspire us, and which we must demand of our leaders, civilian and military.
No wonder Machiavelli always said that virtue was, in its essence, military.