“Mine Alone”

It will be interesting to see if the Benghazi Attack plays a significant role in the next American presidential election; from 3 years out, it’s hard to tell if it will be a deciding issue or simply a historical footnote. What will stay with me are the political obfuscations, the Sunday morning chat show talking points, and the curious notion that one can assume responsibility without assuming blame.

By contrast, consider this: On June 5, 1944 the Allied Invasion of Normandy began as 160,000 Canadian, British, and American soldiers and sailors made their way to the treacherous shores of occupied France. The night before the invasion began, General D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, wrote a letter he would need to deliver, if the invasion failed.

He wrote, “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.’

Eisenhower’s note was never needed.

Author Scott Simon points out that Eisenhower “…drew a long, strong line under ‘mine alone.’ When you see those words and that thick line on the note today, in the Eisenhower Library, you might feel some of the steel of a man who would so unflinchingly accept responsibility. Ike didn’t try to camouflage failure in phrases like ‘mistakes were made,’ ‘Our projections were not met’ or ‘I will say nothing pending investigation.’ He wrote, ‘any blame or fault …is mine alone’.”


7 thoughts on ““Mine Alone”

  1. Right on Jim!

    It has always seemed to me that assuming responsibility means assuming blame, and the right thing to do under these circumstances is to tender one’s resignation.

    It has never ceased to amaze me how numerous political figures admit that scandals occurred on their watch, but continue on as if nothing had happened. No blame, no consequences.

    The Japanese have their own unique solution to these issues – harikiri.

  2. We have seen over and over the lack of expressing responsibility: It was an error in judgment. I misspoke. It could have been better planned. It was a poor decision, etc., etc. I don’t think the people absorb the importance of events. They quickly move on to another topic. By the time the next election arrives, the past rarely has an effect on the present in elections. The event in question here is of great importance but it seems to me what touches people directly in their own area where they live and in their own work is what moves them to vote. They are overwhelmed these days by news around the world and across the country that the impact is blunted. Also, I saw a small bit of a program on the use of psychologists or whoever in the planning of moving people to vote for a candidate. Using such methods along with technology is scary.

  3. Dear Jim,

    Where are such men now?
    I do think such men–such true leaders– do still exist, but they
    are perhaps not much enamored with the world of politics.

    I am just finishing Tolkien’s “Return of the King,” having begun with “The Hobbit” and reading through
    the trilogy. The leadership and courage and nobility seen in Gandalf, Aragorn, and Gimli and Elrond…
    as well as some of the females, too, like Eowyn makes my heart long for a return to Middle _______________________________

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