The Straw Giant

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Arthur T. Hadley begins his study with a detailed account of the aborted mission to rescue the Iranian hostages in April, 1980. In analyzing the failure of that mission, the author identifies six themes of American military policy which have in the past crippled the armed forces and which, if not corrected, will do so in the future.

Hadley’s first theme is the “great divorce"--the gulf that, since the time of Thomas Jefferson, has existed between the military and the civilian financial, business, political, and intellectual leaders of the nation. Historically, civilian distrust of the military has discouraged potentially able leaders from entering its ranks. At the same time, civilian leaders, lacking hands-on experience, have devised unworkable solutions for military problems. A second theme is “interservice and intraservice rivalry": The perennial infighting between and within the services is both economically wasteful and morally indefensible.

Hadley’s third theme is “flawed organization,” a term used to refer especially, although not exclusively, to the organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, contrary to accepted opinion, is little more than a figurehead, without a deputy, without the ability to promote his own officers, and forced by law to submit to the agreement of three (four when the Marines are involved) committee members. A fourth theme, “readiness” concerns both the...

(The entire section is 484 words.)