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A poem from Russ Vaughn.
Donny BoyMeanwhile, over at the New York Post, Ralph Peters says:
(With a tip a’ me hat to the gent who penned the original)
Oh Donny boy, the snipes, the snipes are bawling,
From spin to spin, some generals now decide,
The war’s all wrong and for your head they’re calling,
‘Tis you, ‘tis you must go, they want your hide.
But guard your back from those now in the meadow,
From starry pundits claim they told you so.
To hype their books, they snipe you from the shadow,
Oh Donny boy, oh Donny boy, they hate you so.
And if you run when all the media’s lying,
Then truth is dead as dead the truth may be.
They’ll howl and hound you ‘til you are a’ dying,
And spiel an evil epitaph for thee.
And they will sneer no matter what befalls thee,
At all your dreams of sweetest victory,
For if you win they’ll still not ever love thee,
You’ll see no peace until Bush cuts you free.
Oh Donny boy, the snipes, the snipes are bawling,
From spin to spin, they’re crying for your hide.
Your war is lost is what the media’s calling,
‘Tis you must go, they want ol’ Rummy fried.
Whatever one thinks of the SecDef, the professional identities of his critics and his supporters tell us a great deal. The retired generals calling for Rumsfeld's resignation are recent combat commanders, veterans of Iraq and Middle East experts. They're the men who led from the front and who signed the condolence letters to bereaved families (and they didn't use an autograph machine).Shorter version: everyone I agree with is a hero, everyone else should shut up. I'm not sure that's a defensible position.
Generals such as John Batiste, Gregory Newbold, Paul Eaton and Tony Zinni have something else in common, too: They're leaders respected by their peers for flawless integrity. Their reputations within their services - the Army and Marines - could not be higher. They are not and never have been political generals.
As for the generals who rush to defend the SecDef - using those OSD-disseminated talking points - they fall into three categories:
* Pathetic, aged retirees who desperately want to believe they're still Washington players and who will do anything for a scrap of official attention.
* Air Force generals - while the Army and Marines fought, Rumsfeld funded all of the Air Force's toys and can count on its support.
* And, most troublingly, serving officers selected by the SecDef for the military's highest offices.
Given the red-herring debate over whether or not military retirees have a right to speak out, we've overlooked a shameful and flagrant violation of the military's code of ethics: Active-duty officers are forbidden to make political statements.
Rumsfeld's critics played by the rules and retired before stating their cases. But what should we make of the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Peter Pace, his predecessor and their colleagues who've offered Manchurian-Candidate praise of the defense secretary in public?
Those were political statements. By any definition.
If serving officers can't criticize public figures, neither should they offer endorsements. Secretary Rumsfeld notoriously cracks down on internal dissent, but he hasn't chided Gen. Pace for his on-camera flattery. If you're looking for the politicization of the officer corps, look no further.
In these years without a draft, when most citizens have no first-hand military experience, retired officers (and NCOs) have a duty to speak out. Those still in uniform must remain silent (this means you, too, Gen. Pace), but a man such as Maj.-Gen. John Batiste, who declined the offer of a third star rather than serve under Mr. Rumsfeld, has every right to be heard.
As the Washington machinery attempts to discredit honorable critics of Secretary Rumsfeld, this is truly a David-vs.-Goliath struggle. And the truth, as well as the valor, is on David's side.
You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.Pfffffft.
Meanwhile, the NY Time offers a correction to an earlier story on the topic:
An article on Sunday about civilian control of the military referred incorrectly to the status of retired officers under Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits the use of "contemptuous words" against the president, the secretary of defense and other high-ranking civilians. Retirees — along with officers on active duty — are indeed covered by the rule.Expect Ralph's column tomorrow to offer a correction too.
Among the men who've infuriated Ralph Peters are retired Lt. Gen. John Crosby, former deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, former assistant vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force; retired Maj. Gen. Buron Moore, U.S. Air Force, who was director of Central Command during Operation Desert Storm; and retired Maj. Gen Paul Vallely, former deputy commander of the U.S.. Army, Pacific. Their Wall Strret Journal op/ed includes this passage:
Much of the acrimony expressed by Secretary Rumsfeld's military critics appears to stem from his efforts to "transform" the military by moving to a joint expeditionary force that is lighter and more mobile in nature to meet the nation's current and future threats. Many senior officers and bureaucrats did not support his transformation goals -- preferring conventional weapons of the past like the Crusader artillery piece and World War II war-fighting strategies, which prove practically useless against lawless and uncivilized enemies engaged in asymmetric warfare. It unfortunately appears that two of the retired generals (Messrs. Zinni and Newbold) do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology, Islamic extremism, and why we fight in Iraq. We suggest they listen to the tapes of United 93.That's as harsh criricism as you'll hopefully ever hear between flag officers.
More below, if you're interested.
In Defense Of Donald Rumsfeld
By John Crosby, Thomas McInerney, Buron Moore and Paul Vallely
Foes of the Bush administration described the recent calls by six retired generals for Donald Rumsfeld to resign or be fired as "growing military pressure" for him to do so. These retired generals claim he should go for, among other things, ignoring the advice of senior military leaders and bungling the global war on terror in Iraq with poorly planned war-fighting strategies and post-Saddam planning efforts. We strongly disagree.
Like former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, we do not believe that it is appropriate for active duty, or retired, senior military officers to publicly criticize U.S. civilian leadership during war. Calling for the secretary's resignation during wartime may undercut the U.S. mission and incites individual challenge to the good order and discipline of our military culture. At best, such comments may send a confusing message to our troops deployed on dangerous missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. At worst, they can also inspire and motivate the evil forces we seek to defeat.
Since our nation's founding, the principle of civilian control over the military has been a centerpiece of our system of government. Under our constitutional system, it places elected and appointed government leaders in charge. American soldiers are bound by this tradition to subordinate themselves to civilian authority. We give advice but it is ultimately up to civilian leaders to make key strategic and policy decisions. Unlike many other democracies, this is one important reason why we have never been ruled by the military, and have been the most successful country the world has ever seen.
Some critics suggest that the calls by the six retired generals signify widespread discontent in the military with Secretary Rumsfeld's leadership. It is preposterous for them to suggest that this small group represents the views of the 1.4 million men and women serving on active duty or the 7,000 retired generals and flag officers who respect, understand and appreciate the established American tradition of the military being subordinate to civilian control and direction.
Moreover, despite the frustration of the current situation in Iraq, military morale remains high, as evidenced by the high re-enlistment rate of active-duty forces. This fact belies the contention that there is rising military discontent.
The notion that Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't meet with, or ignores the advice of, senior military leaders is not founded in fact. During his tenure, senior military leaders have been involved to an unprecedented degree in every decision-making process. In addition to the Senior Level Review Group, Defense Senior Leadership Conference, and Quadrennial Defense Review, in 2005 Secretary Rumsfeld also participated in meetings involving service chiefs 110 times and combatant commanders 163 times. Gen. Myers correctly describes these meetings as "very collaborative" with a free flow of information and discussion. Gen. Tommy Franks, U.S. Central Command Commander during the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq, echoes Gen. Myers's comments and supports Secretary Rumsfeld as collaborative in the decision-making process. Gen. Franks has stated recently that he is a tough collaborator and demands sound thinking and recommendations from the senior military leadership and staff.
Much of the acrimony expressed by Secretary Rumsfeld's military critics appears to stem from his efforts to "transform" the military by moving to a joint expeditionary force that is lighter and more mobile in nature to meet the nation's current and future threats. Many senior officers and bureaucrats did not support his transformation goals -- preferring conventional weapons of the past like the Crusader artillery piece and World War II war-fighting strategies, which prove practically useless against lawless and uncivilized enemies engaged in asymmetric warfare. It unfortunately appears that two of the retired generals (Messrs. Zinni and Newbold) do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology, Islamic extremism, and why we fight in Iraq. We suggest they listen to the tapes of United 93.
Despite criticisms, Mr. Rumsfeld is arguably one of the most effective secretaries of defense our nation has ever had. Under his watch, the U.S. military has been transforming; it brilliantly deposed Mullah Omar's barbaric Taliban regime (Osama bin Laden's sanctuary) and Saddam Hussein's ruthless Baathist regime, freeing 50 million people from oppression and placing the countries on democratic paths. With these actions, terrorists have been denied secure home bases. These are a few key factors why terrorists have been unable to attack the American homeland again. The policy and forward strategy implemented by Secretary Rumsfeld has taken the fight to the enemy as did the nation in World War II and the Cold War.
Some, like Generals Zinni, Newbold, Eaton, Batiste, Swannack, Riggs and others, may not like Secretary Rumsfeld's leadership style. They certainly have the right as private citizens now to speak their minds. Some may feel that he's been unfair, arrogant and autocratic to some senior officers. But those sentiments and feelings are irrelevant. In the end he's the man in charge and the buck stops with him. As long as he retains the confidence of the commander in chief he will make the important calls at the top of the department of defense. That's the way America works. So let's all breathe into a bag and get on with winning the global war against radical Islam. In time the electorate, and history, will grade their decisions.
I seldom agree with Peters, but today's article was steel on target.
Batiste, Eaton, and Swannack have impeccable reputations within the Army ... that is for certain. All 3 commanded and/or advised on the ground during OIF.
McInerney, Crosby et al. were neither on active duty nor commanders in OIF.
Too bad you excised one important part of the op-ed - Peters' comments regarding the "revolving door". All four of your WSJ heroes are eating from that trough.
Posted by IRR Soldier... at April 20, 2006 01:04 AM
I don't think Article 88 would stand a Constitutional challenge.Posted by Elizabeth at April 20, 2006 01:20 AM
First rule of being a corporate animal, make sure you have someone else to blame.
The March and April violence in Iraq could be a harbinger.
It could also be a "spring fever" blip, attack trends have always spiked in the spring, in the entire history of warfare.
Lot's of folks have staked their professional reputations on insufficient data.
Some have been exalted as "Prophets", others as "Chicken Littles".
Time will tell.Posted by Soldier's Dad at April 20, 2006 02:26 AM
nicely done, Greyhawk... nicely donePosted by Some Soldier's Mom at April 20, 2006 06:34 AM
Some may feel that he's been unfair, arrogant and autocratic to some senior officers.
It doesn't matter what Zinny's record is. If Zinny and company feel that Rumsfield is too autocratic, perhaps Zinny will present to us the times in which he stopped what he was doing to listen to the complaints of Sergeants and Privates that wanted to talk to him about some plan that they thought was dumb idiotic. In addition, perhaps Zinny would like to tell us what he would do with these sergeants and privates who spoke behind his back about how Zinny is autocratic and how his leadership style is "unfair and arrogant".
If IRR Soldier wants active duty support for Rum instead of backliners, he won't get it. Because the active duty folks are too busy fighting a war to play politics about who or who should not be SecDef.
Please google Admiral Kimmel to see the proper and honorable way to present your arguments and criticisms of an American war. Second link in google.
Leadership in the army isn't based on buddy buddy friendships the Generals have with sergeants and privates. Command ain't about who likes whom, in a big high school. The "Generals" have forgotten this in their attempt to change Civilian Policy. They can air their views all they want, but changing civilian policy is more than talking back to your commanding officer. It really is insubordination. And the Generals who would never have tolerated insubordination from a private or a sergeant in their army, have no right, except the fictional legal one, to say that Rumsfeld's leadership is too autocratic and insensitive to the feelings and thoughts of military commanders.
And the Generals who would have tolerated insubordination? Those Generals aren't of much use, and therefore their criticisms aren't of much use either.
Perhaps the Generals need to be reminded of the chain of command. If you don't like your commanding officer, bump it one chain higher. But I don't think it would gain much "news attention" If the Generals wrote a letter together to the President telling the President what to do. The military would not find that very popular and neither would the American people, except the Democrats that is.Posted by Ymarsakar at April 20, 2006 06:47 AM
Anthony Zinni and company would have impeccable reputations. Anyone saying anything else would get steamrolled by a tank, a humvee, and a US carrier all at once. Insubordination is not tolerated in the Army and Marines, especially the Marines.
No "trumped up captain" is going to talk about the "autocratic and mean spirited shortsightedness" of Generals Zinny and Co. They're not going to survive complaining to the Media about Retired Gen. Charles Swannack's "micromanagement".
As mentioned before, the military isn't a debate society about who is right or who is wrong, but about who is in command and who is subordinate to whom.
Swannack also criticized the way the war was being run before he retired.
In May 2004, while still on active duty, Swannack told the Washington Post that he thought the United States was losing strategically in Iraq.
Perhaps that may go under the title of "micromanage". And if a company commander in the 82nd Airborne were to disagree with Swannack publicly via the news media... what might you think would happen to said company commander?
In February 2005, Rumsfeld told CNN that he had twice offered President Bush his resignation during the height of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, but the president refused to accept it.
Maybe Zinni and Co's staffers forgot to mention this fact, but I'm pretty sure Zinni already knows about it. He just won't go to the President and tell the President in his face, what he should do.
If it is so "important", maybe Zinni should go to the top and not mess around with the media and the press.Posted by Ymarsakar at April 20, 2006 07:07 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(6) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)