Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a particular military hero he wants to honor.
Well sure — who doesn't admire Gen. George Washington? Or maybe Dempsey's favorite is from the Civil War or World War II. Or here's a twist: Maybe it's Gen. Buck Turgidson from the Dr. Strangelove movie!
But no, Dempsey's choice is even more twisted: King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah, who headed the royal Saud family and became the ruling Saudi monarch in 2005, died in January at age 90.
Having served as U.S. military adviser to the King's national guard, Dempsey now lauds the royal gabillionaire for being "a man of remarkable character and courage." Thus, Dempsey has launched a scholarly essay contest for students at our National Defense University, calling it a "fitting tribute to the [monarch's] leadership."
Leadership? To what end? The king's militaristic, autocratic, theocratic regime was revoltingly repressive — especially against women and dissidents.
I wonder, for example, if Dempsey's contest will welcome essays about King Abdullah's gross human rights abuses, including vicious lashings of religious and political dissidents and weekly public beheadings to punish even such minor "criminals" as drug users?
Then there's King Abudullah's allocation of billions of dollars from the family's oil monopoly. This money is still funding the global spread of Wahhabism, the kingdom's extremist, violent perversion of Islam that has helped spawn Al Qaeda and the barbaric Islamic State, both of which are at war with America.
Dempsey's choice for hero worship just proves that generals should not be in the essay business — and they damn sure shouldn't be propagandizing students with the notion that autocratic monarchs are worthy models of character and leadership.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.