In Parts One through Seven, I laid down a careful case that showed, in one categorical area after another, how the Bush Administration and the entire neoconservative movement have effectively been “waging war against the professionals and of the US government, especially the men and women of the military Officer Corps. A perspective that I have been trying to get people to see, for close to five years, now.
Now, delayed and distracted by other things, I feel I must try to finish off this topic, getting the rest of my stored-up material online, even if it comes across less-polished than some of the other sections.
* The Growing Revolt of the Senior Officer Corps.
I have been tracking for years the blatant fact that this administration is more despised by our senior generals and admirals than any other in living memory, even including the Nixon and Johnson officials who meddled cluelessly, while sending men into a useless attrition quagmire on the continent of Asia, dividing the nation, wasting its treasure and credibility and alliances, demolishing America’s position of leadership for a generation.
Take some recent examples:
Oct. 12— In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top American commander called the Bush administration’s handling of the war incompetent and warned that the United States was “living a nightmare with no end in sight.” In one of his first major public speeches since leaving the Army in late 2006, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez blamed the administration for a “catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan” and denounced the current “surge” strategy as a “desperate” move that will not achieve long-term stability.
“There was been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders,” he said, adding later in his remarks that civilian officials have been “derelict in their duties” and guilty of a “lust for power.”
Or this one: "The (Bush) administration has dumped the entire Middle East problem onto the back of the soldier and the Marine," retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton said in an interview from his Fox Island home. "The 'surge,' a modest success, is counterbalanced by our failure to get out a diplomatic surge. ... I believe this administration is incompetent beyond any dream of the American people. This administration is a one-trick pony: military action, military action, military action." Eaton is a product of the U.S. Military Academy. He is the son of a fellow West Point grad, an Air Force pilot who went missing over Laos 38 years ago. Both of Eaton's sons have followed him into the military, one of them to West Point.
Still, after a 2003-2004 tour of duty in Iraq, he was among the earliest to critique then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the neo-conservative warriors of the Bush Pentagon. "It is not typical of retired generals to go to the media. It is not customary for retired generals to make public displays of criticism toward administration policy. But it is our duty, under oath, to support and defend the Constitution. It is not a matter of duty to support and defend the administration."
Joe Conelly, a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says: Winston Churchill, to whom George W. Bush has likened himself, declared: "It is better to 'Jaw, Jaw!' than 'War, War!' " The iron-willed wartime prime minister was also a driven diplomat. Such, too, has been a talent of America's best military leaders -- coalition building and skill at achieving national objectives without the clash of arms. Gen. George Marshall blocked Soviet domination of Europe, not by blowing up the Red Army's T-34 tanks, but by rebuilding war-ravaged Western and Central European countries with the Marshall Plan. The grandiose-sounding Gen. Douglas MacArthur proved subtle and culturally sensitive in the post-World War II dismantling of Japanese militarism. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/331866_joel17.html
In the mid-1990s, at an air base outside Dayton, Ohio, Gen. Wesley Clark and presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke persuaded an odious Balkan dictator -- Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic -- to sign the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina...
Well, well. It’s good to see SOMEONE raising the Balkans War as a point of comparison, showing the “Powell Doctrine” at its best and most effective, in comparison... in comparison to....
* Turning to the “Petraeus Report”
All right, the following is a few weeks old. But it’s still relevant. For only PART of the Officer Corps is fuming. There are others, in an era when sycophancy is rewarded. (Look into history and tell me when that ever happened, and the nation, at large, benefited.)
The right’s attempt to create a Cult of General Petraeus has been touted by cable news shills and denounced by opponents far more influential than me, from a zillion angles. But let’s go to the heart of it, as an example of the lengths that the Bush Administration will go, in order to maximally achieve their apparent goal -- the destruction of the United States Army.
Ponder this caustic snippet from Russ Daggett: ”Petraeus announced that, "the military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met." And based on all that "progress," he said, "we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level of brigade combat teams by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains that we have fought so hard to achieve." He noted that "pre-surge levels" could be reached "by mid-July 2008." But it would be "premature" to discuss force reductions beyond that.
“In other words, 20 months after the people spoke, in the 2006 elections, US forces would be at the same level they were on election day, with absolutely no commitment to reduce them beyond that level. “But in recent months, senior military leaders -- including Admiral. Michael Mullen, incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- have acknowledged that the surge would have to end by April 2008 in any event because there are no fresh replacements for troops who would be completing their 15 month deployments.
“What a coincidence -- Petraeus is offering a force reduction that has absolutely nothing to do with "conditions on the ground" -- it is just the maximum level that our broken military can withstand. Whereupon the levels will stay that way indefinitely -- i.e., until Bush leaves office. “By portraying that inevitable unwinding of the surge as being a response to military success, Petraeus was engaging in political spin. That's one of the dangers of a general allowing himself to become the frontman for a highly-political White House propaganda campaign. Not everyone in the military is happy to see a general become the chief salesman for the administration's war policies.”
Russ goes on to quote at length from an article http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/II14Ak02.html
”In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting. Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say.
“Fallon's derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander's personal distaste for Petraeus's style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to sources. The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.
“In a highly unusual political role for an officer who had not yet taken command of a war, Petraeus was installed in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, in early February just before the Senate debated Bush's troop increase. According to a report in The Washington Post Feb. 7, senators were then approached on the floor and invited to go McConnell's office to hear Petraeus make the case for the surge policy.
“Fallon was strongly opposed to Petraeus's role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq adopted by Bush in December as putting his own interests ahead of a sound military posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia -- the area for which Fallon's CENTCOM is responsible. The CENTCOM commander believed the United States should be withdrawing troops from Iraq urgently, largely because he saw greater dangers elsewhere in the region. "He is very focused on Pakistan," said a source familiar with Fallon's thinking, "and trying to maintain a difficult status quo with Iran."”
...dang. I mean. Dang. As with the US Attorney firings scandal, people seem to miss the key point in the tussle over the Petraeus report. In that other scandal, the issue should not be the eight US Attorneys who were let go, for not perfectly toeing the line, but rather, the eighty or so who are still out there, doing a “satisfactory job” in Bush’s eyes, by performing politically twisted versions of a task that they swore to do for us impartially and professionally.
Likewise, re the military. I have inveighed about the number of valuable officers who are being transferred or forced out, in relentless Bushite purges. But as Petraeus clearly shows, the real issue is not the good men and women who have been purged, but the roll-over lapdogs who have been promoted in their place, collaborating in the bullying, dismemberment and destruction of a proud and skilled military that -- only half a decade ago -- seemed invincible in the eyes of all the world.
* Long have we asked this question: who is the enemy?
Not Osama, since Bush recently dissolved the very CIA unit assigned to tracking the master terrorist down!
Not our Shiite “friends” or our Sunni “friends”, who sometimes flick, like a switch into opposite roles, in a dizzying whirl of masks and reciprocal blame.
Not potential super-rivals like China or Russia, since no attention is being paid to their recent arms buildups and our own military strength has been torn to bits.
What the Bushites DO seem to care about is redesigning the United States Officer Corps. In stocking political and social fanatics into the service academies, at the bottom, while harrying and chasing out the best and most professional flag-level commanders, replacing them with a coterie of those who are willing to shift their loyalties from the Constitution to the Neocon Agenda. This clear choice of priorities and mission makes clear who the Bushites consider to be the enemy.
It is us.
Return to Part 1 of this series