American Samizdat

Friday, September 29, 2006. *
A revolt is brewing among our retired Army and Marine generals. This rebellion--quiet and nonconfrontational, but remarkable nonetheless--comes not because their beloved forces are bearing the brunt of ground combat in Iraq but because the retirees see the US adventure in Mesopotamia as another Vietnam-like, strategically failed war, and they blame the errant, arrogant civilian leadership at the Pentagon.


This kind of protest among senior military retirees during wartime is unprecedented in American history--and it is also deeply worrisome. The retired officers opposing the war and demanding Rumsfeld's ouster represent a new political force, and therefore a potentially powerful factor in the future of our democracy. The former generals' growing lobby could acquire a unique veto power in the future by publicly opposing reckless civilian warmaking in advance.


I speak regularly to retired generals, former intelligence officers and former Pentagon officials and aides, all of whom remain close to their active-duty friends and proteges. These well-informed seniors tell me that whatever the original US objective was in Iraq, our understrength forces and flawed strategy have failed, and that we cannot repair this failure by remaining there indefinitely. Fundamental changes are needed, and senior officers are prepared to make them. According to my sources, some active-duty officers are working behind the scenes to end the war and are preparing for the inevitable US withdrawal.


The dissenting retired generals are bent on making Iraq this nation's last strategically failed war--that is, one doggedly waged by civilian officials largely to avoid personal accountability for their bad decisions. A failed war causes mounting human and other costs, damaging or entirely destroying the national interest it was supposed to serve.


The senior military dissenters will not rest until they indict the mistakes of Rumsfeld and his principal civilian aides at Congressional hearings. The military always plays this game of accountability for keeps. Should the Democrats gain control of a Congressional chamber in the November midterms, televised Capitol Hill hearings in 2007 will feature military protagonists speaking of "betrayal" and "tragically wasted sacrifices." The retired generals believe nothing would be gained, and much would be lost, by keeping the truth about Iraq from the families of America's dead and wounded.

Whalen includes analysis of the strategic debacle Bushco has created for the US as the "realists" see it and his view of the best possible way out, assuming the realists prevail, though the best may not actually happen. Anyway, he paints a picture of a military brass that wants civilian scalps for this disaster, which makes me wonder what kind of back room talk is going on between them and Dems. It's hard for me to imagine Dems leading a charge even if they win one of the houses, esp since Rove will call up the Swift Boat generals in response, but we're down to Hail Marys here so I hope they and the generals get their shot. Can't make things any worse.

Interesting (to me) aside, Whalen writes that Nixon's secret plan to end the Viet Nam war included a summit with the Soviets (leading to detente?) and an opening to China in return for their help getting us out. He also claims the end of the draft proceeded from the decision to exit Viet Nam. I'd never heard any of that. For what it's worth...
posted by Uncle $cam at 5:26 PM
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