.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


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.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sour Grapes:
   Counter-reaction builds

Melvin R. Laird, secretary of defense from 1969 to 1973 and Robert E. Pursley, a retired lieutenant general in the Air Force and military assistant to three secretaries of defense, take issue with the recent flurry of criticism from retired generals over Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense.

Their article, Why Are They Speaking Up Now?, was in yesterday's Washington Post.

The two of us have experienced many of the circumstances confronting Rumsfeld. Our experience and connections at the Defense Department tell us that these generals probably had numerous opportunities to advise and object while on active duty. For them to now imply otherwise is disingenuous and quite possibly harmful for our prospects in Iraq. And it misrepresents the healthy give-and-take that we are confident is widespread between the civilian leadership at the Pentagon and the capable military hierarchy.
They make their point by implying that Rumsfeld has run amok and does not listen to his admirals and generals. Yet recently retired Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Richard Myers and his successor, Gen. Peter Pace (from the Air Force and Marine Corps, respectively), have rebutted the argument that the military was sidelined. Myers and Pace are in a position to know.

Rumsfeld respects the delicate balance between military expertise and civilian control, but in the end the decisions are his to make.
This is not to say that in hindsight Rumsfeld will be seen as infallible. No secretary of defense has made every decision correctly, and because lives are at stake, those decisions are critical. The appropriate opportunity for military officers to offer constructive criticism and to shape policy that helps avoid disastrous consequences is when those officers are still on active duty.
There are many avenues through which military ideas can be expressed. The uniformed service chiefs and civilian service secretaries meet frequently with the secretary of defense. We still have many friends and associates in the military and the Defense Department. We are confident that Rumsfeld does not limit those who meet with him to proffer advice. Access by the military through the Joint Chiefs of Staff structure and especially through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is frequent and influential. The commanders in chief of the various commands have ready access to the secretary of defense.
We do not advocate a silencing of debate on the war in Iraq. But care must be taken by those experienced officers who had their chance to speak up while on active duty. In speaking out now, they may think they are doing a service by adding to the reasoned debate. But the enemy does not understand or appreciate reasoned public debate. It is perceived as a sign of weakness and lack of resolve.

Well. That settles the whole issue for me.


Post a Comment

<< Home