Colin Powell’s swift climb up the military and political ranks is unlikely to be replicated anytime soon. He is only the third retired general to serve as secretary of state since World War II, along with George C. Marshall and Alexander Haig. And, if polls were correct, he could have been the first retired general ...
Colin Powell’s swift climb up the military and political ranks is unlikely to be replicated anytime soon. He is only the third retired general to serve as secretary of state since World War II, along with George C. Marshall and Alexander Haig. And, if polls were correct, he could have been the first retired general to become U.S. president since Dwight Eisenhower. Most high-ranking U.S. military figures, however, avoid politics in retirement, having spent their careers in an institution that strives to be apolitical. Nevertheless, there are several retired flag officers who are politically active and may seek political offices or appointments. FP spoke to several defense experts and retired generals for their predictions about old soldiers who don’t plan to fade away. Among the names they recommend to watch:
Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.)
As a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, the former supreme allied commander of NATO boosted his national image and received strong support in his home state of Arkansas. Although Clark entered politics at the national level, he also has his eye on state office. David Sanders, a journalist who covers Arkansas politics, says Clark would make a strong candidate if he were to run for governor in 2006, a post many speculate he is considering. "He took some liberal positions during the Democratic primary that may be a liability in Arkansas." But, Sanders adds, Arkansas is a peculiar state willing to elect candidates of a wide span of political ideologies. In 1996, for example, Arkansas helped reelect President Bill Clinton, even as they sent conservative Republican Tim Hutchinson to the U.S. Senate.
Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy (Ret.)
The former Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence — and highest ranking woman ever to serve in the U.S. military — considered a 2002 run for U.S. Senate from Virginia, but decided against it. Kennedy was an advisor to Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and spoke at the Democratic National Convention in July. Retired U.S. Army Gen. William Nash, now with the Council on Foreign Relations, says she would "be a candidate for an intelligence-related appointment in a Democratic administration. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she ran for congress in the future." Promoting women’s participation in government will likely figure into her plans. Kennedy told a group of women in 2002 that when a woman runs for a political office, "forget about whether she is a Democrat or Republican. Unless she is a total wacko, get her elected."
Gen. Eric K. Shinseki (Ret.)
As Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003, Shinseki pushed for an overhaul of the Army, advocating smaller and lighter units. He made headlines in 2003 for his estimate, disputed by the Bush administration, that the Iraq occupation would require "several hundred thousand troops." Since retirement, however, Shinseki has been silent in the debate over Iraq. Both senators currently representing his home state of Hawaii are nearing retirement, and Shinseki — by all indications a Democrat — would be heavily favored if he ran to fill one of their seats. Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Boyd says, "Shinseki has a habit of telling the truth, which has sometimes gotten him in trouble. But it’s a fine characteristic for a U.S. Senator to have, and one of the reasons I would like to see him run."