Friday, April 14, 2006

General disapproval

There has been general disapproval of President Bush lately. No, that's not a reference to his approval rating dropping into the low-30s. The Commander in Chief's generals have been publicly disapproving of his administration, of late.

Although he supported Bush for president in 2000, it's not news that General Anthony Zinni has been highly critical of him invading Iraq. Even before the invasion, General Eric Shinseki publicly disagreed with Rumsfeld plans for war in Iraq. However, these generals' brothers in arms have begun coming out of the woodwork the past week, expressing their own discontent for the Iraq war.

On Sunday, Time magazine published an essay called Why Iraq Was a Mistake. Written by General Greg Newbold, the essay expresses outrage at Secretary Condoleezza Rice's statement that the military has made thousands of tactical errors. The General was the Pentagon's top operations officer. His contention was that the errors were not tactical -- they were strategic, made at the very top by Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. His harsh words included:
What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department. My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results.
On Wednesday, General John Batiste joined the chorus of criticism. The General commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. Interviewed on the Today show, Batiste said that the administration's conduct of the war violated fundamental military principles. His position is that, "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork." He also made it clear that the timing of so many generals speaking out against the war now is not a coordinated campaign.

The latest general to speak out was the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq near the beginning of the war. General Charles Swannack Jr. even went so far as to lay the blame for the detainee abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison right at the feet of Secretary Rumsfeld. The General called for Rumsfeld's ouster in a CNN interview.

There is clearly widespread disapproval of the war in Iraq among the leadership of the military fighting the war. As you would expect, most of those still in active duty are keeping quiet with their opposition. Like good soldiers, after privately expressing their disagreement, they salute and follow orders in the end. However, many are becoming so disillusioned with the war that they're retiring and speaking out.

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