Gen. George Gordon Meade and Gen. Robert E. Lee were men of faith. So was
President Abraham Lincoln who said in his second inaugural address, referring
to North and South, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each
invokes his aid against the other. … The prayers of both could not be answered—that
of neither has been answered fully.” Within six weeks, the four-year Civil War ended.
If such demonstrations of religious faith by Meade and Lee are ambiguous as to
their consequence, there are manifestations of other kinds of faith that are not.
When Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower spoke with American troops before the D-
Day invasion, they reassured him of their trust – their faith – in his leadership and
his plan. The troops did not know the full dimensions of the plan. Both they and
Eisenhower knew that the outcome was uncertain.
But both had faith in the other to do their respective jobs to the best of their ability.
If the troops did not have such faith, could they have been as heroic as they were? If
Eisenhower did not have such faith, could he and others have devised a successful
The military leaders at the US Army War College will graduate on Saturday. They
have spent the year learning the skills of strategic leadership after an average of 21
years of prior service. They understand this aspect of faith. More than once over the
past four days, I heard these leaders express the special burden they carry: “We owe
it to the troops to get it right.”
The problems we discussed at the National Security Seminar – al-Qaeda, the Taliban,
IEDs, drug cartels, Congressional brinksmanship, uncertain foreign alliances – could
bring us to the paralysis of pessimism. But time after time the speakers and officers,
who have lived these problems and consoled the widows and widowers of friends,
affirmed their faith in the mission of defending the United States and in the capacity
of their people to succeed.
It would be easy to hear speeches and see videos about duty, courage, and honor
and think them corny. What you get from being in the room, however, is the
inescapable fact that for military officers at this level this is not political rhetoric.
They really believe that duty, courage, and honor are pragmatic, not idealistic. In
war you can’t be trusted if you are not trustworthy. And if you are not trustworthy,
the best strategy in the world is less likely to succeed and more likely to fail.
PA’s political leaders, who are trusted by only about one in five of us, don’t merely
disregard the integrity and public policy desires of the majority, they lead us to
distrust each other. So The Majority Party PA gives us the tool – scientific public
opinion research – to know what most of us really want. Armed with trusted
common knowledge, we can elect political leaders who will truly serve the public.