HIGHTOWER: Personal Responsibility

The dapper sophisticate, Fred Astaire, once noted: "The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any."Same thing for kids these days who are told they must learn to be "responsible" for their actions. But where are their role models?One institution in which taking responsibility has long been considered not just a convenience, but a code of honor is the U.S. Military. Yet those in the top ranks no longer seem encumbered by such old-fashioned notions of honor, accepting no responsibility for the consequences of their military actions.In 1994, when two F-15 fighters mistakenly shot down two of our own helicopters over Iraq, killing all 26 aboard, only a low-level captain went to a military trial, and he was acquitted.In 1996, when 19 Americans were killed and 500 wounded in a terrorist truck bombing of a military housing complex in Saudi Arabia, the Air Force found that its general in charge of security at that complex was not responsible, even though he had been warned that a truck-bomb attack was likely and he did nothing to stop it. Instead of punishment, this general is up for promotion.Likewise, two of America's highest-profile generals -- Stormin' Norman Schwartzkopf and Colin Powell -- claim that they have no responsibility for the fact that more than 100,000 US soldiers under their command in the 1991 Persian Gulf War now are sick and dying as a result of massive chemical and biological contamination that these two generals knew took place. It's not our responsibility is the claim of Schwartzkopf and Powell -- we're only generals. Both of these guys are making millions on books and speeches as a result of their "war celebrity", but neither has the integrity to stand-up for the soldiers they sent into that Desert of Death.Don't bother telling kids to be responsible, until those at the top are.

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