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I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gracious Geyer's Geysers:
   Heroes of the Fatherland

I fear the Gadfly has found another victim to feed upon.

Georgie Anne Geyer, who most recently wrote a very uncivil article about the incivility of politics (ie the Bush Administration), this matron of unMannerly-like verbage, is at it again.

From her most recent virulent exorcism of civility,

Donald Rumsfeld's errant personal obnoxiousness ... the ideological madness of his immediate subordinates ... the "Saturday Night Live" planning to take over an ancient, eternally brutalized and maddened country such as Iraq. ... Out of their hubristic arrogance. ... Rumsfeld and his never-serving cronies ... the hated civilians under Rumsfeld ... Walter Reed Hospital is filled with the brave boys and girls from West Virginia and South Carolina and North Dakota, with their bodies blown to bits, and nobody in the White House seems the least bit sorry about it ...

Her point is that the retired generals who are now speaking out against Rumsfeld are heroes, nay, Heroes of the Fatherland.

It is not even entirely possible that it is all just so much ado about nothing, except maybe sour grapes.

I post the article in its entirety in my comments

The Gadfly is now on the watch.


Blogger Jay Cline said...


By Georgie Anne Geyer Tue Apr 18, 6:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- About the riveting case of "the generals," one could say that, after all, retired generals are citizens and have every right to speak out against the war and Donald Rumsfeld. On the other hand, one can genuinely question not only whether this breaks the military's historical code of silence about policy, but also the effect such acts might have on our troops fighting in Iraq.

One could also say that things are so bad in Iraq, and that so many gargantuan mistakes have been glossed over by the Pentagon civilian leadership over three long years, that the only responsible thing a moral officer can do is to speak truth to power.

But then, didn't American generals in Vietnam allow themselves to be muted by the same laws of obedience to the civilian authorities? Don't we have to stretch our perspective and place the questions of this case into the "why-didn't-we-learn-from-Vietnam?" category of inquiry?

We can talk until doomsday about Donald Rumsfeld's errant personal obnoxiousness, or the ideological madness of his immediate subordinates, or the "Saturday Night Live" planning to take over an ancient, eternally brutalized and maddened country such as Iraq. But when you come down to it, the real point is that Rumsfeld and Co. made horrendous decisions. Out of their hubristic arrogance has come nothing but mounting disaster for the United States.

That is why Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, Maj. Gen. John Riggs and Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr. have courageously faced the facts of the war they commanded, and why Rumsfeld must go.

The outstanding quote of this whole episode, almost Shakespearean in its sense, comes from Gen. Newbold: "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."

And that is why -- most important of all -- Rumsfeld and his never-serving cronies were able to get us into a war that scholar Zbigniew Brzezinski says has led to the "delegitimization" of America across the world. At this point, this inner Pentagon struggle is magnified to a level where the outcome looms so seriously that whatever light the generals can bring to the struggle can only be applauded.

In short, this case is not only about Pentagon leadership; it is about whether the U.S. military will survive or whether Iraq will mark the last great age of the United States of America.

But let's back up a bit to gain some context on military refusal and recusal, and to explore some of the ideas hovering about behind the generals' acts and accusations.

Military scholar Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic Studies pointed out to me, for instance, that there was a "Title 10" in some of the military authorization bills before Congress at the end of the Cold War. It instructed that members of the Joint Chiefs must provide independent advice to the president and to Congress, to ensure they act as independent advisers and are not under the thumb of the secretary of defense. This law was modeled loosely after Prussian army regulations, military author William Lind told me, where every officer had to put in writing his agreement to policy -- or he would be held co-responsible for the outcome.

One would have thought that, after the costly disaster of Vietnam, the military might have headed even more in this direction, but it didn't. Despite all the conferences at war colleges in the late '70s over "Who Lost Vietnam?", nothing really changed. David Halberstam, the premier writer on the Vietnam War, told me even then: "We saw the message: 'Keep it buttoned up. Your job is to prevent any dissent.' Corps commanders in the Joe Stillwell tradition (the famous American general in Burma whose frankness was legendary) were told they would be 'out.'"

Instead, Cordesman went on: "We've gone almost exactly the same road as Vietnam: from the neo-liberals (who gave us Vietnam) to the neocons of today. From the hated civilians under Robert McNamara to the hated civilians under Rumsfeld."

And so, when the world is spinning upside down and Walter Reed Hospital is filled with the brave boys and girls from West Virginia and South Carolina and North Dakota, with their bodies blown to bits, and nobody in the White House seems the least bit sorry about it, the administration continues errantly with the same policies. One has to embrace these generals who stepped forward to speak out.

Everything else now becomes tangential to stopping the syndrome: Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, today Iraq, tomorrow perhaps Iran. We must figure out why this magnificent society continues to throw up civilians such as Douglas Feith and how we allow them to get us into these seemingly endless "theoretical wars" or "wars of choice," where our interests are not in the slightest endangered.

These generals have at least started to put military stones of integrity in the road down which McNamara and Rumsfeld have led us. They have begun the real questioning of America wasting itself in "invented wars," in which our survival was not remotely at stake.

In this, they deserve our fervent thanks, plus prayers that some lessons finally will be learned.

4/19/2006 3:36 PM  

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