Thomas Ricks knows "transition" is not verb
"Petraeus and Odierno reversed some of Casey’s directives. ... formally demoted `transitioning' to Iraqi security forces from the top American priority to number seven on their mission list. Replacing it as the number-one task was the mission of protecting the Iraqi people."As I take my leave of the most thrilling, important, trenchant book that I've read since The Man Without Qualities, I highlight a small but significant additional reason to treasure it: The author, Thomas E. Ricks, clearly thinks good writing important, and he is unafraid to say that others should do so as well.
The sneer in those inverted commas around the odious transitioning above made me cheer, and it's worth noting that Ricks sneered in the context of commending two generals who de-emphasized "transitioning" in their effort to salvage a sloppy, directionless U.S. military effort in Iraq.
Ricks concludes his analysis of U.S. military leadership since World War II with an epilogue of suggestions for undoing the damage wrought by incompetent generals and the diseased culture that the Army had become. Among these is better education (as opposed to training) for generals.
"As an added benefit," Ricks suggests, "many would learn to write clearly, a skill notably lacking in many American generals in this era of PowerPoint bullet-point briefings that lack verbs and causal thinking and all too often confuse a statement of goals with a strategy for actually achieving them."Thomas E. Ricks, you are the man.
© Peter Rozovsky 2013