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anything that smacked of defeat. He
wisely refrained from a response in
Lebanon, instead re-establishing his
credentials by judicious use of force on
more favorable terrain closer to home.
This was the first and only time U.S.
forces met Cubans in direct combat,
and the encounter resulted in a setback
so embarrassing for Castro that it exac-
erbated Soviet-Cuban relations.
Kenneth N. Skoug Jr.
FSO, retired
Alexandria, Va.
Lee vs. Grant
I was surprised that Jon P. Dorsch-
ner, having been at West Point for two
years, should make an extremely su-
perficial comparison between Robert
E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant in his No-
vember 2011 Speaking Out column
(“Why the Foreign Service Should Be
More Like the Army”).
Though I am certainly not enam-
ored of the cause Lee served from1861
to 1865, to use him as an example of
someone who had too much ego —
and “was defeated ... because he (Lee)
did not understand ‘modern war’” — I
found amazing.
Lee’s defeat was more due to a lack
of resources (materiel and manpower),
combined with poor political support
and, later, personal medical problems
than by “a lack of understanding” of his
profession. After studying the Civil
War for many years, I think it is the very
rare historian who would argue that
Lee’s talents as a field commander and
strategist did not extend the life of the
Confederacy for considerably longer
than it would have otherwise existed.
The devotion shown to Lee by
those serving in his army, from generals
to privates, also contradicts the label of
“egotism” applied to him by Mr.
Dorschner. An episode during the
1864 Battle of the Wilderness in Vir-
ginia, as described in a National Park
Service brochure, illustrates this.
In the midst of a particularly horrific
phase of the battle, when it appeared
the Confederate line might break,
“Gen. Lee attempted to lead the Texas
Brigade forward. The Texans implored
Lee to go to the rear so he would not
be killed. Soon, dozens of Texans were
urging Lee to go back. Lee either ig-
nored their pleas or in the noise of bat-
tle did not hear them.
“Finally, a staff officer grabbed the
reins of Lee’s horse and led the horse
and general to safety behind the lines.
The ‘Lee to the Rear’ incident became
one of the most famous events of the
war. The Texans then proceeded for-
ward, losing 500 of 800 men in the
charge.”
Soldiers do not typically show such
concern for officers who are “egotisti-
cal tools.”
Stephen B. Flora
FSO, retired
Canberra, Australia
Sochi, Russia
In the December article, “Setting
Up Shop in the Newly Independent
States,” Mike Tulley writes about the
time he “spent 24 hours on the tarmac
in Sochi, Georgia, with Jim Paravonian
and about 100 inebriated Georgian
friends.”
That must have been some layover,
for Sochi is in Russia! While it is histor-
ically Georgian, Sochi was last part of
Georgia in the 15th century, except for
a brief annexation by the Democratic
Republic of Georgia (1918-1919).
Jonathan Kulick
Adviser
Office of the State
Minister of Georgia for
Reintegration
M A R C H 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
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