Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Generals vs. Bush

"[T]op Army brass have detected signs the Bush White House has begun trying to shift the blame for the Iraq War disaster to them."
It's been widely reported for over a year that retired military brass were becoming deeply disenchanted with the Bush administration's Iraq war strategy, tactics, and abuse of the military itself. Richard Whalen's recent article, "Revolt of the Generals", is only the latest of many such reports.

But it looks like something even more serious is going on, now, within the active military establishment. After silently standing by for three and a half years while White House and Pentagon civilian officials repeatedly assured the public that our military leadership was fully behind Bush's Iraq War (and the troops were getting all the equipment and support they needed) over the past few weeks active -- not retired -- military generals and other currently commissioned officers suddenly are going public with disagreements over the administration's story-line on Iraq.

Mark Shields heavily hinted at this Friday on Jim Lehrer's News Hour:
"The highest ranking or certainly one of the highest ranking men in the United States military today has recommended that we remove all troops from Baghdad, all American troops from Baghdad…All of the troops out of Baghdad, secure the road to the airport, secure the oil fields and the borders, and say that the pacification and the maintaining of order in Baghdad is the responsibility of the Iraqis. That is the recommendation of probably one of the most — probably the most respected man in uniform today."
The full transcript of the usually well informed Shields' occult remarks -- he never identified the 'high ranking officer -- can be read on the News Hour web site.

Army Times reporter Sean Naylor said much the same thing Saturday on NPR's All Things Considered. The veteran Military Times reporter also repeated more or less the same report on the same day in USA Today. (Both Military Times and USA Today are owned by Gannett Publishing.)

There, journalist Naylor quoted Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who has been one of the chosen 'mouthpieces' for currently active military leaders. Asked why top active military brass now are speaking out against Bush's Iraq policy, Naylor said on NPR there are two reasons.

First, he told interviewer Debbie Elliott, they want to protect their personal reputations and that of the Army itself against the kind of criticism leveled against military commanders who were accused of being overly complaisant after the Vietnam War was lost.
"I suspect that the candor follows by probably several months their internal downturn in assessments. I talked to a source of Capitol Hill for this story who indicated that they had been hearing the sort of comment that [Gen. William] Caldwell made behind closed doors for some months prior to that. So I think what appears to be happening is that the generals have decided that their reputations and the reputations of the Army leadership - perhaps the Army itself - are now riding on them speaking candidly about what's occurring."
Second, top Army brass have detected signs that the Bush White House is beginning to try to shift the blame for the Iraq disaster to the military -- and they won't stand for it.
"[T]he generals' attitude was, okay, well, if you're going to hand us this responsibility publicly and folks are going to be judging in the future the Army on what we do, then we're going to speak out. We're going to have more of a say in this from now on."
Also late last week, Gordon Lubold reported in The Army Times that a group of active-duty military members calling themselves "An Appeal for Redress" is collecting signatures from "dozens of active-duty service members who say it's time to redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq." The group even has a web site here.

Constitutionally, the president is the commander in chief of the military. For over two hundred years, to its great credit, U.S. military leadership genuinely respected its subordination to civilian leaders. There have been few exceptions as serious as Gen. Douglas MacArthur or Gen. Curtis LeMay, and they were quickly and efficiently resolved.

But civilian leaders have never before used military leaders like mere potted plants to show off for political purposes. It looks, now, like those 'plants' are fighting back.

The consequences of Bush's ill-conceived Iraq adventure keep mounting. Thousands of American young people have died, tens of thousands are maimed for life. The administration has imperiled the Bill of Rights. Our few remaining 'coalition' allies, besieged by their own at home, are ready to quit Iraq by year's end.

We've unnecessarily complicated our own homeland security by squandering the world's good will after 9-11 and inflaming uncounted more jihadists. The Middle East has become more dangerous, not less. Seeing what Bush has done to Iraq, two other nations he disparaged as part of the 'axis of evil', Iran and North Korea, have added incentive to develop nuclear weapons.
The Army is nearly broken. National Guard units across the nation have had to leave their equipment overseas and now need replacements. More Iraqi civilians have died since the U.S. invasion than Saddam ever killed.

And, now, the Bush administration's scape-goating of the military could threaten to inspire a real generals' revolt that once again will test whether civilian rule of the military can endure. The Iraq disaster must be brought to a quick end before it is the end of us.


Raymond McInnis said...

Good piece! I saw the program, too, and -- because I've never seen Shields do anything like this before -- I watch every Friday, was quite surprised. Have never seen Shields secretive.

Rich Lowry's response, "would create chaos" was, I suppose predictable.
Nonetheless, did you notice that the inequality -- if you're comparing Shileds and Lowry as pundits -- showed up as never before? Lowry is "bush-league" -- no pun intended -- in my book!

mariamaria said...

nice's about time someone started telling the truth..