Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pushback on the Generals' Revolt

In the past week, the media has been touting that a number of retired generals are going off on Don Rumseld and calling for his resignation as Secretary of Defense. We're now seeing pushback.

From the Administration. And President Bush himself.

And from other former generals who did not speak up until now.

Multiple arguments sprout out of the Rumsfeld situation, if it can even be called that. Some, like David Ignatius, think Rumsfeld should go, not because of the generals revolt, but because it might improve the perception of the war in Iraq among Americans. I think that's a smokescreen. The American public is consistently fed a line by the big media outlets, including the Washington Post, that highlights and regularly trumpets the failures and the body count, rather than the successes, which are far more difficult to quantify. The situation in Iraq is far more complex than the big media outlets let on - and there are quite a few successes to go along with the occasional failure.

The problem is that many of the failures are political in origin, not military. The Administration is undercut regularly by opposition at home, so instead of giving the military the ability to finish its military mission, the Administration has to adjust based on political realities at home. Not to mention the fact that the hard-core anti-war left is foaming at the mouth hoping to introduce articles of impeachment at the earliest possible moment. There's already been a call for censure.

Those domestic political machinations affect the perceptions not only at home, but in Iraq and among the military themselves.

Ed thinks that Ignatius is right and Rumsfeld should go. Big Lizards disagrees and sums up what I think is the salient point:
First of all, the very idea that Bush can regain momentum and swing Congress to his side by caving in to the liberals is nutty. When has showing weakness and appeasement ever helped a president?
The sides here are clearly drawn and throwing Rumsfeld under the bus because a couple of generals disagreed with Rumsfeld (or had personality conflicts or saw their pet projects/theories tossed aside in favor of others). Anyone who deals with the Pentagon knows that it is far from a monolithic entity - that competing and opposing theories on war, warfighting, tactics and strategy are a regular part of Pentagon life. The difference here is that the retired generals thought that they should take their criticisms to the media.

All Things Beautiful notes:
It's commendable that Rumsfeld has the support of now retired Generals who worked closely with him in the War on Terror, and others who claim that "he pushes us to what we "think" is our limit, then shows us we have another ten percent to give. Secretary Rumsfelds nickname among many is the "110% Secretary."
That suggests that Rumsfeld thinks the military can do even more, and is challenging those around him to do even better. Perhaps those who are critical were found wanting? That's not unheard of in times of war. Lincoln regularly replaced his generals until he found those who could and would lead. The same thing happened in World War II, and in every other war. Some generals rose through the ranks because of their political abilities. Others because of their leadership and strategic/tactical thinking. It takes both the political abilities and the leadership and strategic/tactical thinking to be successful. Real Clear Politics echoes these sentiments.

As usual, the Moderate Voice has a roundup of opinion.

Others blogging: Gateway Pundit, and Betsy's Page.

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