Thursday, April 20, 2006

Them Pesky Retired Generals

For the past week, the Emperor and his minions have been spinning furiously in response to the retired generals who have spoken out against Donald Rumsfeld and the way he has mismanaged the Iraq invasion. Thanksfully, the smearing and side talk just hasn't taken hold. Evidence of their lack of success is this rather pointed April 18th editorial from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

The administration sometimes gives the impression that it has accepted accountability for its mistakes on Iraq. At the end of March, for example, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "I know we've made tactical errors -- thousands of them, I'm sure." But that statement only pointed elsewhere -- at the military's execution of strategy.

Two days later, Gen. Anthony Zinni said of Rice's comment, "These were not tactical mistakes. These were strategic mistakes, mistakes of policies made back here. Don't blame the troops. They've been magnificent."

...it is clear that there was seething resentment -- resentment that is now finding expression. The generals variously resented the administration's failure to build coalitions with our allies, its casualness in going to war, its contemptuous treatment of officers who dissented from within, its war plan with insufficient troop levels, its decision to dismantle the Iraqi Army, its insistence that abuses at Abu Ghraib were the isolated acts of a few ... and so on.

If you listen to several of the retired generals, you see a pattern: They're all highly experienced military brass who felt the civilian leadership neither understood military officers' expertise nor respected their advice.

...What is so noteworthy about the so-called Revolt of the Generals is that their words ring true to anyone who's been paying attention to Iraq, and that their insights and frustrations clearly represent more than their own individual thoughts. To that point, Michael O'Hanlon of Brookings called it "a referendum on the centerpiece of the Bush presidency."

Bush is failing that referendum, but still isn't accountable -- not for the selective use of intelligence and phony arguments he employed to make the case for war, not for thumbing his nose at U.S. allies, not for the way the war has been prosecuted.
[Emphasis added]

The editorial also pointed out what we all pretty much knew. While serving, the chain of command must be respected, and criticism of the civilian leadership of the military is not tolerated. Once these generals retired, however, they are simply citizens and are entitled to exercise their right to speak freely, even on issues such as this.

Karl Rove must be losing his touch. Swiftboating men considered to be heroes didn't work this time. Perhaps that's why he's decided to spend more time on the elections and less time on White House policy. With any luck at all, his failure to offset the generals' criticism will be replicated during the election season.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Alan david said...

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6:27 PM  

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