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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Generals Are Revolting, Again...

Charles Krauthammer, writing in the WaPo, has it right, I think, and this provides a more facile answer to Izmud's comment than I provided yesterday:

The Defense Department waves away the protesting generals as just a handful out of more than 8,000 now serving or retired. That seems to me too dismissive. These generals are no doubt correct in asserting that they have spoken to and speak on behalf of some retired and, even more important, some active-duty members of the military.

But that makes the generals' revolt all the more egregious. The civilian leadership of the Pentagon is decided on Election Day, not by the secret whispering of generals.

We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions. That happens in places such as Hussein's Iraq, Pinochet's Chile or your run-of-the-mill banana republic. And when it does, outsiders (including the United States) do their best to exploit it, seeking out the dissident factions to either stage a coup or force the government to change policy.

That kind of dissident party within the military is alien to America. Some other retired generals have found it necessary to rise to the defense of the administration. Will the rest of the generals, retired or serving, now have to declare which camp they belong to?

It is precisely this kind of division that our tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors was meant to prevent. Today it suits the antiwar left to applaud the rupture of that tradition. But it is a disturbing and very dangerous precedent that even the left will one day regret.

I would say that the left created it -- during Slick Willy's term, when mud-minder Generals signed their Devil's Bargain with the Democrats.


Update 21 Apr 06:
Izmud comments:

I think you and Krauthammer missed the point. These are retired generals, not active generals (yes, I know they can be recalled--no need for that rabbit hole). Their previous service gives them credence for their viewpoint, but their shucking of the uniform gives them the RIGHT to speak out, and they are exercising it. I say "Bully for them!" I do not advocate, and would oppose, an active duty officer actively opposing or speaking out against the government. But now they are unfettered citizens, and have the right to speak their mind. I think Rummy has f---ed this thing up all along, so has George, and I don't mind these flag officers saying so. I do think we should be fighting this war, I'd have just done it differently, and still would change some things.

This is not a "revolt"--there are no torches, no stepping outside the law, etc., and I hold those who characterize it as such in contempt--plain old yellow journalism. Comparing their actions to those of the thugs in other country's demeans their service and their patriotism, and I think it stinks. This is a pretty well-behaved verbal protest--all perfectly legal and above board. The kind of thing that would make our founding fathers proud.

Wake up and pay attention.

Ahh, John, so now we get down to the truth of it....this has nothing to do with the relative legality or prudence of their "revolt" (which I agree, in fact, that this is not, as I believe I said yesterday...all kidding aside), but is about the fact that you agree with them. Not enough troops...bound to lose...can't usher in democracy by fiat...und so weiter. Your comment about Rummy is your central point, and I think you'd be arguing as Krauthammer and I have concerning the prudence--not the strict legality--of their comments if you thought, as I do, that Rummy and Dubya and Condi have been right all along, have been following sound policy, whatever the mob and the WaPo may think of it, and that a handful of discontented wannabe proconsuls and every other squabbling armchair Napoleon should shut the f**k up about it. That or go join Mother Cindy and the International Socialist Pary in their efforts to usher in genuine revolt.

Whose side are all y'all on, anyway?


Update 24 Apr 06:
Izmud responds:

Sorry, can't let this one go. I'm on the side of America, "land of the free". I'm flogging the issue of the right to free speech here--on behalf of these retired GOs. While I understand the sensitivity in light of ongoing operations, I don't think suppressing them is in the interests of our nation. But it's also inaccurate to try to paint me as some liberal knothead just because I think Dubya & Pals are screwing up. I just calls 'em like I sees 'em.

Okay, you're right -- too emotional of me to equate all disagreement with the war with Mother Sheehan and other traitors. Further, as I said I don't disagree with their right to speak, I just disagree with what they're saying. You should be angry at them for not making their voices heard when they were involved in the deliberations leading up to our current policy. Me, I don't see a lot of good alternatives to what we're doing now. Neither do the Democrats, apparently, when even Teddy Kennedy can't give alternatives, just parrot "the President was wrong" on Meet the Press.

I would like to hear more. In what ways are Dubya & Co. screwing up? What alternatives do you think that we have?


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