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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Generals: Civilian Rule is Dictatorial
By Nicholas Stix


Seven retired generals have criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for being insensitive. Specifically, Rumsfeld is "arrogant” and "abusive," according to Maj. Gen. John Batiste.

A general complaining that someone else is “arrogant” and “abusive”? Most generals consider such terms part of their job description. Pot, kettle, General; pot, kettle.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, calling for Rumsfeld's resignation in the New York Times, spoke of the latter’s "unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower."

But did General Eaton complain about the feminization of the military that has accompanied its greater reliance on technology? Are you kidding? Even in retirement, he’s scared to death of feminist activists like Lory Manning.

According to General Eaton, Rumsfeld has also "shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. . . . Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."

I have myself criticized the handling of the war, and Rumsfeld specifically, going back to April 16, 2003, just after Baghdad fell, and anarchy reigned. My criticism was that the American military was behaving in a multicultural fashion, and thus making global fools of us. The way to deal with looters is to declare martial law and shoot them. But the military was afraid of the backlash from the Arab and Marxist world (that would be in far-flung, communist outposts like West 43rd Street), from images of American fighting men shooting Arab looters being sent around the world. I say, such images would have earned our boys the only sort of respect our enemies understand.

But although Rumsfeld said some nonsense about anarchy and looting being the way free people act (“freedom's untidy”), the man who is responsible for the prosecution of the war is our commander-in-chief. It was George W. Bush who was so solicitous of our enemies’ sensibilities. If you have a beef with Bush, say so. Don’t use Rumsfeld as a proxy.

Imagine if FDR or Harry Truman had called up Tojo, to ask if our war plans met with his approval.

Rumsfeld also has too much “swagger,” as in "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." That’s according to Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, whose “sole motivation, pure and simple, [is] the servicemen and women and their incredible families." Incredible. Oh, and Rumsfeld also fails to play well with others, according to General Newbold.

Say what you will about Donald Rumsfeld, but he’s no chicken hawk. He’s an old Navy flier. And a military man who despises swagger? What kind of combat commander was Newbold?

Other brave retirees include Maj. Gen. John Riggs, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., and Gen. Anthony C. Zinni.

Zinni has said, “We are paying the price for the lack of credible planning, or the lack of a plan. … Ten years worth of planning were thrown away; troop levels dismissed out of hand. … These were not tactical mistakes. These were strategic mistakes, mistakes of policy made back here. Don't blame the troops," and "Poor military judgment has been used throughout this mission."

Wait a minute. Either we had ten years of planning, or we had no plan. Zinni sounds like a propagandist trying to hit all the confused mental states of Bush-haters. I don’t like the President, either, but I don’t get hysterical about it … yet.

Oh, well. Zinni’s an old Clinton hand, so it’s hardly surprising that he should criticize his political opponent. I don’t know the others’ party affiliation, though I’m sure they’d all say, “Independent.” They’re no politicians. Right.

Future generals imbibe politics at their mothers’ breast.

It apparently hasn’t occurred to these old warhorses that they are suggesting that civilian authority is the problem, and that the generals should be in charge. Historically, courtesy of Hollywood’s paranoid style of American politics, that threat was always aimed at liberal presidents from the Right. But when is the last time the Hollywood Left got anything right? That threat, imagined in movies like Dr. Strangelove, Seven Days in May, and Fail Safe, interestingly all from 1964, existed only in the fevered minds of Lefties who still hungered to kill ol’ dead Joe McCarthy one more time. (What did Tailgunner Joe have to do with generals? What did it matter? (How many times have I heard a lefty speak of Sen. McCarthy as part of the House Un-American Activities Committee.)

One of the pillars of the American system, unlike the fictional Constitutional principle of separation of church and state, is that civilians rule the military, not the other way around. The other way around, is called a military dictatorship. That’s what the Hollywood Left warned us about for forty-odd years. But now, with some military tired of civilian rule, the Left is silent.

Let the generals speak. They have the same First Amendment rights as the rest of us; no more, and no less.

But if they thought Rumsfeld was leading us into folly, and yet kept their own counsel, as they now say they did, then they didn’t deserve to be generals.

As another general, Richard Myers, who recently retired as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, "We gave [Rumsfeld] our best military advice. … If we don't do that, we should be shot."

Sounds good to me, and not because Myers is a general, which cuts no ice with me. I’ve liked the guy for some time, particularly since he locked horns with Sen. Mark Dayton, who sought to bully him and demagogue the truth during Senate hearings a year or two ago.

Ready, aim …

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