It's been humorous and pathetic to watch the right-wing spin the story about the six generals who have 'come out' (literally) over the past two weeks to criticize Rumsfeld and call for his resignation. Here are three examples:
"I think we need a fresh start ... We need leadership up there (the Pentagon) that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them."
-Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, 2004-2005
"A lot of them [other generals] are hugely frustrated. Rumsfeld gave the impression that military advice was neither required nor desired" in the planning for the Iraq war.
-Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, former commander of Marines forces in the Pacific Theater
"Everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out. [Rumsfeld and his advisers have] made fools of themselves, and totally underestimated what would be needed for a sustained conflict."
-Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs
I belong to a few conservative email groups and the headline of the day is: Six Generals: Big Deal, That's a Small Number.
One "Bush Can Do No Wrong" voter wrote, "Bush has an alternative means of dealing with these as*wipe Generals! Recall them to active duty and assign them for indefinite duty at various hot bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are not doing their country any good by providing more fodder to the Terrorist Daily News and its affiliates of the NYT, Wash. Post, LA Times, Boston Globe and the Dispatch (Eatonville, WA). We've got all too many generals running around with big mouths."
So one minute, these generals are to be praised for their sacrifice and service to this country and the next, they are a**wipes. Gotta love the right-wing's loyalty and class.
Here are a few comments from the intellectual patriots over at FreeRepublic.com:
Not all generals are great military men....just good pentagon politicians....
Oh, gee. What do six generals out of thousands know about war?
Hey, Rummy ain't perfect, but I'll take him over any of these lame-brained generals who retire then criticize.
Monday morning quarterbacking is all it is......useless, except to aid and abet and enourage the enemy...and the democrats. I'm glad Bush is supportive of Rumsfeld and caving to these self aggrandizing idiots.
Are these generals hold overs from the Kinton regime and have some sort of axe to grind? What general worth his salt dosen't think that he knows better than the next guy up the chain of command? If they had the balls, why did they not speak up when they were on active duty?
These people have clearly never served in the military or they wouldn't be asking, "Why didn't they speak up when they were on active duty?" If they did serve, they would know that speaking out is not allowed, writes former Marine Stephen Pizzo in an article called "Permission to Speak Freely:"
When an officer has a particularly sticky problem with the actions or orders of a superior officer, s/he can "request permission to speak freely, sir."
Well, that was tried, by Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, who was promptly and unceremoniously "shit-canned." (Another term my fellow vets may find familiar.)
The Pentagon's civilian leaders sent a clear message to the rest of the Pentagon brass: "Do what we want, or we'll find a junior officer who will."
With the "permission to speak freely" option off the table, the brass was left only with their prime directive: Civilians rule.
In other words, speaking out now is a very big deal. "Never in my life did I ever expect to hear these kinds of things coming out of the mouths of such men. Never," writes Pizzo. The generals' statements should be taken very seriously, especially as the man who they believe should step down now has his eyes on Iran.
Update: The NY Times is running a story about this today. According to Dennis E. Showalter, a military historian at Colorado College who has taught at the Air Force Academy and West Point, General Pace had no choice but to publicly support Rumsfeld. "If he had not spoken out, he would have been making a very strong statement," he said. The article goes on to say:
In fact, Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prescribes court martial for any commissioned officer who "uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, Congress, the secretary of defense" or other federal or state officials.
That prohibition, of course, does not forbid serving officers from speaking candidly in private when asked for advice on military matters. Some of Mr. Rumsfeld's critics also fault General Pace and others for not being more forceful in questioning the guidelines put forward by Pentagon civilians that have kept American forces relatively lean in Iraq, and which led to the quick disbanding of the Iraqi Army.