“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

US Generals, Veterans of Iraq, Defect

Retired officers line up against Bush policy

-The Intelligencer
"You know what they say: If there's enough smoke, there must be a fire.

For the umpteenth time some retired U.S. military officers have strongly criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration for bungling the war in Iraq.

The forum on Monday had a strong whiff of politics to it, a hearing by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, but it's far from the first time that retired military leaders have blasted the conduct of the war. That's unusual, because retired officers rarely criticize the Pentagon while a military operation is under way.

Retired Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, who once commanded the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said he believes that “Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war.”

He also criticized Congress for failing to ask “the tough questions,” and said that, if the administration had fully considered the requirements for war, the nation likely would have stayed focused on Afghanistan, “not fueled Islamic fundamentalism across the globe, and not created more enemies than there were insurgents.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military and police, went so far as to say that “Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision making.”

He also said that postwar planning was “amateurish at best, incompetent a better descriptor.”

And retired Marine Col. Paul X. Hammes, who was in charge of building bases for the Iraqi military and now is the Marine senior military fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at the National Defense University, strongly criticized the decision to send U.S. troops off to fight in Iraq without the best equipment.

He called it a “serious moral failure on the part of our leadership.”

Retired Maj. Gen. Eaton called the defense secretary “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically...”

They're strong words, but Rumsfeld has been the target of such criticism from retired high ranking officers before. President Bush has always defended his embattled defense secretary, but with the Iraq war emerging as a central issue in November's critical congressional elections, one wonders if it isn't time for the commander in chief to cut Rumsfeld adrift.

It has long been my opinion that military matters should be left to the military professionals, not civilians like Rumsfeld who want to pretend they are generals who can out-general their own generals.

Retired Maj. Gen. Batiste related that Rumsfeld at one point threatened to fire the next military leader who mentioned that the Pentagon needed a postwar plan in Iraq.

That kind of arrogance doesn't serve the military or the nation well.

Let's face it. We're going to be involved in Iraq for a long time. There's no way we can just pack up and go home until the Iraqis are able to govern and defend themselves.

Republicans know that, and Democrats know that.

If Republicans continue to pursue a policy in Iraq that discounts the advice and needs of the military leaders in the field, Americans eventually will clamor for change.

If Democrats have a better strategy, and so far I haven't heard one that's clear and comprehensive, it might not be long before they get the opportunity to test it."

*Lou Sessinger is a columnist with The Intelligencer. He can be contacted at (215) 957-8172 or


  1. Well, it is D Day plus 3.5 years, in Iraq. The Enemy has not yet been defeated. Well, some of the Enemies have been defeated, but other Enemies formed, post Invasion.
    In any case the objective's capital city, as well as many major regional centers, have not yet been secured.

    Some of US believe the Enemy has been empowered in Iraq, that the UIA Government is really just another Islamo-fascist faction.

    The US did not take an active enough hand in writing the Iraqi Constitution. To many empty civilian billets in Baghdad. Those US involved had no clear vision of what the end result should look like.

    Who is the Enemy in the War on Terror, if it is not Osama and those under his direct command?

    Who can be shot on sight?
    Even delivery of mini Z's 2 500lb JDAMs had to be personally approved by General Casey.

  2. I think until we see which generals are signing what contracts with which networks and publishing houses we won't know even the partial motivations of these generals.
    They've all got huge ego's. Maybe they got passed over for the next star and that pissed 'em off.
    There are a million maybes'.
    If they were so truly vexed by the conduct of the SECDEF and his war effort, and really wanted to make a statement they would have reisgned, in the field, under the klieg lights of a anti-US press ie NYT and WaPo, LA Times and the Ottumwa Courier. But they lacked the GUTS to do so.
    Chances are they have book deals and are positioning themselves for TV spots of running for dog catcher. Surly they all have agents by now. Piss on 'em.

  3. Senator Lott decries the Democrats "politizing" the War on Terror.

    Pot callin' the kettle black.
    Seems to me.

  4. Part of the explanation is in the
    "Civil war at the Pentagon" 20Sep post at at at Westhawk

    Without an expanded military, the US has to be more Introspective. That's the reality of the current state of affairs.

  5. Citing an excellent article by Kagan and Kristol, Whit’s pal Tiger at Observanda has up a great thread. The US needs a much larger military than today’s. While the authors focus on the Army, the manpower shortages are across the board.

  6. Citing an excellent article by Kagan and Kristol, Whit’s pal Tiger at Observanda has up a great thread. The US needs a much larger military than today’s. While the authors focus on the Army, the manpower shortages are across the board.


  7. Allen,
    That's why Mini's bombers needed permission:
    Just save bombs and we don't have to buy more.
    Also, if we name all our Enemies Minis, we can downsize bombs and use fewer both, saving even more.
    Leaves more money for Viagra and Bridges.
    Give some of us enuff Viagra, and cut the Drawbridges to Nowhere Budget, saving even more.

  8. Resource Use Improves:
    Drawbridge Erection Time plumets.

  9. More Wars,
    More Rules,
    Fewer Bombs and Bullets.
    The New Balanced, Military Beanie-Counter Budget.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    "MlR" *cough, throat clear* says a lot of what I think in the above thread. *cough*

    Course, he also has to fight half the thread - soooooooooo.