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Are the revolting ret. generals feeling guilty?

Richard Holbrooke considers the motives of the growing number of recently retired generals, who call for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The former ambassador to Germany and to the UN and founder of the American Academy in Berlin writes in the Washington Post:
These generals are not newly minted doves or covert Democrats. (In fact, one of the main reasons this public explosion did not happen earlier was probably concern by the generals that they would seem to be taking sides in domestic politics.) They are career men, each with more than 30 years in service, who swore after Vietnam that, as Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs, "when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in half-hearted warfare for half-baked reasons." Yet, as [Retired Marine Lt. Gen.] Newbold admits, it happened again. In the public comments of the retired generals one can hear a faint sense of guilt that, having been taught as young officers that the Vietnam-era generals failed to stand up to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson, they did the same thing.
Holbrooke assumes:
The retired generals -- six so far, with more likely to come -- surely are speaking for many of their former colleagues, friends and subordinates who are still inside. In the tight world of senior active and retired generals, there is constant private dialogue. Recent retirees stay in close touch with old friends, who were often their subordinates; they help each other, they know what is going on and a conventional wisdom is formed.
Secretary Rumsfeld pointed out that the number of generals calling for his resignation is insignificant compared to the thousands of active and retired generals.
Following are excerpts of Ret. Gen. Newbold's strong criticism and Sec Rumsfeld's account of the success in Iraq:
Continue reading "Are the revolting ret. generals feeling guilty?"

Iraq is not Vietnam

Frederick Kagan, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, opposes Senator Hagel's comparision with Vietnam. Writing for the LA Times, he reminds the increasingly war-weary American public:

Despite what you may have read, the military situation in Iraq today is positive -- far better than it ever was when we were fighting guerrillas in Vietnam or when the Soviets were fighting the Afghan mujahedeen. (...) Yes, the Iraqi insurgents have inflicted a steady stream of casualties on U.S. troops with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and car bombs, but they are not able to hold ground or attack prepared U.S. forces and fight them toe-to-toe as the North Vietnamese and mujahedeen did regularly. (....)
Another piece of good news from Iraq is that the insurgents are offering a mainly nihilistic message. Most skillful revolutionaries promise concrete benefits from their victory. Insurgents frequently work not only to terrorize local villagers but to help improve their lives in small ways. The Iraqi insurgents offer only fear. (...) Perhaps the best news from the region these days is that the Iraqi army is finally producing units able to fight on their own. According to Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, there are now more than 170,000 "trained and equipped" Iraqi police and military personnel, and more than 105 police and army battalions are "in the fight."

Republican Senator Hagel walks in Senator Fulbright's footsteps

All high ranking Republicans support President Bush's policy on Iraq? Think again! Senator Hagel, a Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, reminds Boston Globe Columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of Senator Fulbright:

As President Bush's war in Iraq becomes more maddening to Americans, the more Hagel talks as if he is the Republican who will become to Bush what J. William Fulbright once was to Lyndon Johnson. Fulbright was the Democratic senator from Arkansas who publicly turned against Johnson's war in Vietnam. Fulbright used his power as the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to hold nationally televised hearings to debate the merits of the war. (...)
The more disconnected the Bush administration becomes, the more Hagel -- who is said to be testing the waters for a presidential run in 2008 -- finds himself linking himself to the legacy of Fulbright. A measure of how badly Bush has botched events since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is that a Republican might run on something that smacks of an antiwar platform. In a January speech before the World Affairs Council, Hagel noted Fulbright's Vietnam hearings. ''Fulbright received criticism for holding public hearings on Vietnam, especially with a president of his own party in office," Hagel said. ''Fulbright later wrote that he held those hearings 'in the hope of helping to shape a true consensus in the long run, even at the cost of dispelling the image of a false one in the short run.' " Hagel continued by saying, ''Today, we must not be party to a false consensus in Iraq or any foreign policy issue." That echoes Fulbright's famous statement: ''The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust government statements."

Big thanks to David from Dialog International for sending us this article.