Asian Americans are often stereotyped as being quiet, unassertive and not willing to standout and openly disagree with differing opinions. General Eric Shinseki can’t be accused of this. But who is Eric Shinseki, you ask?
“General Shinseki, testifying before Congress in February 2003, a month before the United States invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, said “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be needed to stabilize Iraq after an invasion. In words that came to be vindicated by events, the general anticipated “ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems,” adding, “and so it takes a significant ground force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment.” The testimony angered Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at the time, whose war plans called for far fewer troops. Mr. Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, publicly rebuked General Shinseki’s comments as “wildly off the mark,” in part because Iraqis would welcome the Americans as liberators.”
Shinseki was effectively forced to resign and retire a few months later shortly after his testimony in Congress. This incident has been effectively been coined the term Shinsekied – telling the truth, despite the consequences, and having to pay the consequences.
On Sunday, president-elect Barack Obama nominated Japanese American retired General Shinseki to head the Department of Veteran Affairs. Given the nature of the course of the unnecessary pre-emptive Iraq invasion the past 5 years, Shinseki has already been vindicated with telling the fact-based truth on what he considered necessary for the post-war management of Iraq, this new appointment is just icing on the cake.
And this is no token Asian American being nominated; in reading into Shinseki’s background, you cannot be helped to be impressed: Shinseki was the highest-ranking Asian American in the military prior to his retirement, was Chief of Staff of the Army, a four star general, commanded the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia and was a veteran of the Vietnam War, where he suffered serious wounds and lost much of a foot.
You can watch Shinseki’s 2003 testimony to Congress on YouTube here:
My congratulations on Obama selecting an excellent nominee and sticking it to President George W. Bush and his administration.