Monday, April 17, 2006

Time Magazine: Revolt of the Generals

Rumsfeld himself in the fall of 2003 offered as good a reason as any for his tenure to come to an end; at the time, he said the policy in Iraq was leading to more insurgents rather than fewer. The list is long of the blunders that can be traced to the office of the Secretary of Defense. One also has to include Rumsfeld's involvement in politics, intelligence and foreign policy where his performance has not only been less than stellar but also at variance with the US Constitution.

Time has an article on the growing discontent of the military with Donald Rumsfeld:
Army Major General John Batiste sounded like a big fan of Donald Rumsfeld's when the Pentagon chief dropped by the 1st Infantry Division in Tikrit on Christmas Eve 2004. "This is a man with the courage and the conviction to win the war on terrorism," Batiste told a gathering of 250 G.I.s.

But Batiste's true feelings were a little more complex than he was letting on. After joining a growing chorus of retired generals last week calling on Rumsfeld to resign, Batiste told TIME that he was actually seething as the Defense chief came to call. "When I introduce the Secretary of Defense to my troops, I'm going to be a loyal subordinate," he said. "But it was boiling inside me. Every time I looked at him, I was thinking about ... that s_____ war plan, I was thinking about Abu Ghraib, and I was thinking about the challenges I had every day trying to rebuild the Iraqi military that he disbanded."

Batiste, it turns out, wasn't the only one holding his fire. Over the past several weeks, the extent of the military's unhappiness with Rumsfeld has exploded into what is already being called the Revolt of the Generals.
Whether the discontent with Rumsfeld has anything to do with the possible plans for attacking Iran (which Sy Hersh says may involve nuclear weapons) is hard to say but consider this: not since the battle between Douglas MacArthur and President Truman has there been such a conflict between the military and the civilian side. In the earlier conflict, the issue was only partially about civilian control of the military. In some respects, the larger issue was the use of nuclear weapons. Specifically, MacArthur had proposed the use of nuclear weapons just north of North Korea on Chinese territory. Because of the wider global implications (and the fear that the Soviet Union could respond by using nuclear weapons against Europe, a much closer target for their purposes), Truman said absolutely not. There were other issues but this still has a familiar ring more than fifty years later. But the roles are reversed. It appears to be the civilians this time, President Bush and the Secretary of Defense, who may be talking about using nuclear weapons, in this case, for a preemptive war.

For now, Rumsfeld's military critics are simply focusing on his incompetence and recklessness but it would be a mistake to believe no other issues are in play.

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