“The Goats of West Point”
Reading over the many comments on the president’s SOTU, I came across one by James Robbins, which included a mention of his book: “Last in His Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point.” I had never seen or heard the term “Goats of West Point” before, but it is a very intriguing one:
Today’s Goat, the West Point cadet finishing at the bottom of his class, is temporary celebrity among his classmates. But in the 19th century, he was something of a cult figure. Custer’s contemporaries at the Academy believed that the same spirit of adventure that led him to carouse at local taverns motivated his dramatic cavalry attacks in the Civil War and afterwards. And the same willingness to accept punishment from Academy authorities also sent George Pickett into the teeth of the Union guns at Gettsyburg. The story James S. Robbins tells goes from the beginnings of West Point through the carnage of the Civil War to the grassy bluffs over the Little Big Horn. The Goats he profiles tell us much about the soul of the American solider, his daring, imagination and desire to prove himself against high odds.
Robbins’ book looks like a great read, and his commentary on last night’s SOTU was very on target:
James S. Robbins
I’m feeling déjà vu.
Tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country ‘” your enemy is ruling your country. And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation.
Iran [is] a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people. … Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran.
The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq’s ongoing defiance of the world. … If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.
The Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. (Applause.) America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.