Sunday, April 16, 2006
A chorus of retired generals have come forward this past week to sharply criticize Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and call for his resignation. They are united in their belief that he's unfit to lead the nation's military forces as the United States seeks to extricate itself from the Iraq war. Rummy and President Bush are inextricably tied to this quagmire, and the war itself is inextricably tied to Bush's legacy as president. Rumsfeld symbolizes the war and the war is how history will judge Bush. To fire Rumsfeld is an admission of failure in Iraq.
Bush is not one to readily accept blame or acknowledge mistakes, and on something so central to his presidency as Iraq, he is not about to start now. What we will continue to get is more of the same spin and delusional rhetoric as before: "the war was justified...everything's going great...there's tremendous progress in Iraq...and Rummy and me are the brilliant masterminds of this obvious military success." And this message could not be more evident than on the airwaves of the Busheviks' loyal conservative radio and TV spinheads, who have embarked on a ludicrous campaign of character assassination of the highest-ranking military commanders in the land. Not surprising.
The generals, seven in total so far, include two former commanders of Army divisions in Iraq--Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr and Maj. Gen. John Batiste--and another who trained the Iraqi forces, Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton. The others are Gen. Anthony Zinni, a frequent and outspoken critic of Rummy and the Busheviks; former presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark; Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, former director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of staff; and Maj. Gen. John Riggs. And it's not just the retirees. Newbold wrote an essay in Time Magazine in which he said he was encouraged to speak out by current high-ranking officers in the military. By law, active-duty officers are prohibited from speaking out against the civilian military leadership. No matter what the ReTHUGlicans say, the characters of these generals is unassailable. That's what makes their criticisms so meaningful.
The generals' main beef? That Rumsfeld is an arrogant, bullying micromanager who grossly miscalculated strategy in Iraq while ignoring and/or discounting the advice of the military commanders on the ground. Even one of his staunchest supporters, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, in a NY Times op-ed Sunday, admitted Rumsfeld is a micromanager who wanted to be involved in all decisions. As such, several of his strategic decisions have come under intense scrutiny from the generals. First, Rummy's "modern war" premise grossly underestimated the level of troops needed despite strong opposition from Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was later booted from his post for stating that hundreds of thousands of soldiers were needed to maintain order post-invasion. Furthermore, it was Rumsfeld who decided to cancel the deployment of the First Cavalry Division, which would've bolstered the initial invasion force and helped stave off the mounting insurgency. And perhaps the biggest blunder was Rumsfeld's unilateral decision to dissolve the Iraqi military without consulting the Joint Chiefs.
Now while the prevailing political logic would have Bush canning Rumsfeld to at least create some specter of accountability and thus improve the Republicans' chances in the November midterms, Rumsfeld's ouster is simply not going to happen. And while he likely did not intend his words to be construed this way, most profound is the statement made by Texas Senator John Cornyn that Rummy's resignation would be a mistake: "If this were to happen, it would encourage demands for other members of the cabinet or other people close to the president to resign." Given the abysmal performance of the Busheviks, just what the hell would be so wrong with that?