Why Rumsfeld Should Consider Harakiri
When so many young officers have this many bad things to say about the old buzzard, it's high time that he bites the proverbial bullet and puts us all out of our misery before the US has a full-fledged mutiny on its hands.
The revolt by retired generals who publicly criticized Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has opened an extraordinary debate among younger officers, in military academies, in the armed services' staff colleges and even in command posts and mess halls in Iraq.And the results are not flattering, to say the least.
Junior and midlevel officers are discussing whether the war plans for Iraq reflected unvarnished military advice, whether the retired generals should have spoken out, whether active-duty generals will feel free to state their views in private sessions with the civilian leaders and, most divisive of all, whether Mr. Rumsfeld should resign.
"This is about the moral bankruptcy of general officers who lived through the Vietnam era yet refused to advise our civilian leadership properly," said one Army major in the Special Forces who has served two combat tours. "I can only hope that my generation does better someday."The implication, of course, is that Bush is equally reviled and must also be removed. But, he's not the only one despised.
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[One] Army major in the Special Forces [said] "I believe that a large number of officers hate Rumsfeld as much as I do, and would like to see him go," he said, summarizing conversations with other officers. "The Army, however, went gently into that good night of Iraq without saying a word," he added. "For that reason, most of us know that we have to share the burden of responsibility for this tragedy. And at the end of the day, it wasn't Rumsfeld who sent us to war, it was the president."
A midgrade officer who has served two tours in Iraq said a number of his cohorts were angered last month when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that "tactical errors, a thousand of them, I am sure," had been made in Iraq.Damn! This amounts to a vote of ZERO confidence. This is unsustainable in the military. And it doesn't look as though it will subside without substantial change.
"We have not lost a single tactical engagement on the ground in Iraq," the officer said, noting that the definition of tactical missions is specific movements against an enemy target. "The mistakes have all been at the strategic and political levels."
"It's a fundamentally healthy debate," Ms. Schake said. "Junior officers look around at the senior leadership and say, 'Are these people I admire, that I want to be like?' "And this is coming from a culture that takes pride in following commanding orders.
These younger officers "are debating the standard of leadership," she said. "Is it good enough to do only what civilian masters tell you to do? Or do you have a responsibility to shape that policy, and what actions should you undertake if you believe they are making mistakes?"
No class craves strong leadership more than the military.And you cannot lead men by force - at least not free men.
"I feel conflicted by this debate, and I think a lot of my colleagues are also conflicted," said an Army colonel completing a year of work at one of the military's advanced schools. . . .
But he said his classmates were also pointedly aware of how the Rumsfeld Pentagon quashed dissenting views that many argued were proved correct, and prescient.
It's time for the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis of evil to take a dive and let our soldiers be free again - free to follow leaders they believe in.