"..the rebellion is problematic nonetheless. It threatens the essential democratic principle of military subordination to civilian control — the more so because a couple of the officers claim they are speaking for some still on active duty. Anyone who protested the pushback of uniformed military against President Bill Clinton’s attempt to allow gays to serve ought to also object to generals who criticize the decisions of a president and his defense secretary in wartime. If they are successful in forcing Mr. Rumsfeld’s resignation, they will set an ugly precedent. Will future defense secretaries have to worry about potential rebellions by their brass, and will they start to choose commanders according to calculations of political loyalty?
In our view Mr. Rumsfeld’s failures should have led to his departure long ago. But he should not be driven out by a revolt of generals, retired or not." Washpost
I guess my ox is being gored here. I never attained the rank of general in the Army but after I retired from the Army I was a member of the Senior Executive Service of the Defense Department civil service with a grade equivalent to a lieutenant general among the uniformed. So, I guess I qualify for criticism under Mr. Hiatt’s criteria. I have certainly been both analytic and critical of policy in Iraq. I always thought that the intervention in Afghanistan was a good idea and continue to think the same thing. I have always thought that the Jihadis should be pursued wherever they are found, but I also always thought that the costs in an occupation of Iraq would outweigh the benefits and that the distortion of the intelligence process supporting the decision to go to war in Iraq and the operational planning that flowed from that were fatal flaws compounded by the ill advised dissolution of the Iraq Army. I was "bitching" about these things when most of the gentlemen now speaking up were still on active duty and trying to do their duty within the context of the strictures of UCMJ and military custom. I reckoned I was free to do that because I was retired from the Army, that is, still officially a member of the Army but by custom a private citizen with all the freedoms and responsibilities of any private citizen. I reckoned that I was doing my duty to the Republic and to our soldiers.
In what I have said and written over the last four years I have tried to avoid "picking on" individuals in government or anywhere else. The reason for that was that I assume that all concerned in the debate over planning and executing the war are sincere and well meaning people. Anyone can err, and those who can now clearly be seen to have made terrible mistakes are not different. For that reason I do not think that I have ever called for anyone to resign from any office and I will not do so now. It is truly the responsibility of the president to determine who should serve in the executive branch, and he should do so. For that reason I would not have called for Rumsfeld to resign. I think it was a mistake to do that, but I certainly believe that the officers now speaking up in a retired status have a duty to do so, and I would associate myself with them in their effort.
Now, the Washington Post has proclaimed a doctrine of civil-military relations which was previously unknown to me. According to the Post, it is improper for a RETIRED officer to criticize POLICY. The Post should reconsider this position. If this notion became general, then there would be no one in the body politic who would have the knowledge and the expertise with which to inform an often uninformed and unqualified media community with regard to the wisdom and practicality of decisions made by politically motivated civilian leadership. In that situation, an administration that embarked on a disastrous course of action in foreign policy could continue to follow that course indefinitely bolstered in the public’s opinion by the kind of ruthless Information Operations (propaganda) that we have experienced in recent years.
Think it over, Post.