The revolt of the generalsI've said many times about how the Iraq aggression was a horrible idea badly executed. I've explained countless times why it's a horrible idea half of the equation. But The Nation had an excellent piece on the badly executed part.
A series of high-ranking retired military leaders have attacked War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the conflict and called for his resignation. Their attack is not a partisan political jibe by a bunch of wild eyed, Blame America first' lefitsts.
Their criticisms are based on the fact that the Iraq aggression is both against the national interest and harmful to the institution of the military.
The generals argue that the Pentagon made enormous strategic errors in the beginning of the war. Primarily, not committing enough troops to the mission and disbanding the Iraqi army, thus creating a large population of unemployed, angry men with guns. This decision essentially created the Iraqi insurgency. The generals contend that these errors can not be remedied by our indefinite occupation of the country.
Retired Lieut. Gen. William Odom calls the Iraq War "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" and draws a grim parallel with the Vietnam War. He says that US strategy in Iraq, as in Vietnam, has served almost exclusively the interests of our enemies. He says that our objectives in Vietnam passed through three phases leading to defeat. These were: (1) 1961-65, "containing" China; (2) 1965-68, obsession with US tactics, leading to "Americanization" of the war; and (3) 1968-75, phony diplomacy and self-deluding "Vietnamization." Iraq has now completed two similar phases and is entering the third, says Odom, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
Such dissent even from retired generals is virtually unprecedented in American history. Why?
The fact that so many retired generals are speaking out against the war and against Rumsfeld, and are doing so at such forums as New York's prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, reflects the depth and intensity of the military's dissent. Traditional discipline and career-protecting reticence prompt many disillusioned field-grade officers (majors and above) to keep silent. These are "the Carlisle elite," who attend the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and from whose ranks are selected the generals and top leaders of tomorrow.
And how can blame them.
Rumsfeld publicly humiliated all who dissented, beginning with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was virtually dismissed the day he honestly gave his views to Congress.
I've said from the beginning that the Bush administration's modus operandi is to listen to the views that support its pre-existing opinions and ignore the ones that don't... or worse, as Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame found out. The more I read, the more convinced I am this is true. They let their opinions drive the facts, instead of vice versa. And it's soldiers in Iraq who pay the highest price.
For an administration that intones the mantra 'support our troops' every 3.2 seconds, you'd think they'd be a little more keen on actually listening to them.