Friday, April 14, 2006

A Spate of Generals

Like a pride of lions or a school of whales perhaps. A way to denote a large number of retired generals all moving together as a pack, this time in a vain hope to get Rumsfeld fired. Another has joined the spate:

The widening circle of retired generals who have stepped forward to call for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's resignation is shaping up as an unusual outcry that could pose a significant challenge to Mr. Rumsfeld's leadership, current and former generals said on Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., who led troops on the ground in Iraq as recently as 2004 as the commander of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, on Thursday became the fifth retired senior general in recent days to call publicly for Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster. Also Thursday, another retired Army general, Maj. Gen. John Riggs, joined in the fray.

"We need to continue to fight the global war on terror and keep it off our shores," General Swannack said in a telephone interview. "But I do not believe Secretary Rumsfeld is the right person to fight that war based on his absolute failures in managing the war against Saddam in Iraq."

Another former Army commander in Iraq, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the First Infantry Division, publicly broke ranks with Mr. Rumsfeld on Wednesday. Mr. Rumsfeld long ago became a magnet for political attacks. But the current uproar is significant because Mr. Rumsfeld's critics include generals who were involved in the invasion and occupation of Iraq under the defense secretary's leadership.

There were indications on Thursday that the concern about Mr. Rumsfeld, rooted in years of pent-up anger about his handling of the war, was sweeping aside the reticence of retired generals who took part in the Iraq war to criticize an enterprise in which they participated. Current and former officers said they were unaware of any organized campaign to seek Mr. Rumsfeld's ouster, but they described a blizzard of telephone calls and e-mail messages as retired generals critical of Mr. Rumsfeld weighed the pros and cons of joining in the condemnation.

Even as some of their retired colleagues spoke out publicly about Mr. Rumsfeld, other senior officers, retired and active alike, had to be promised anonymity before they would discuss their own views of why the criticism of him was mounting. Some were concerned about what would happen to them if they spoke openly, others about damage to the military that might result from amplifying the debate, and some about talking outside of channels, which in military circles is often viewed as inappropriate.

I believe Billmon is correct when he states that:

My advice would be: Fuggetaboutit. The chances that Dick Cheney will fire his old boss and ideological comrade in crime are only slightly higher than the chances that Rumsfeld's removal would lead to even a minor improvement in the situation in Iraq. It's almost like asking Cheney to fire himself.

To be honest, I think the pair of them would get rid of Junior before they would ever consider stepping down. This absolute determination to hold on to office at all costs may seem bizarre, considering how old and sick these guys are -- and how much shit is coming down on their heads every day -- but it's just the way these things work.

And Junior has stated in public that he's very happy with Rummy who is doing "a heckuva" job. Of course, so was Brownie in the aftermath of Katrina, right before he was made to resign.

But Rummy is one of the powers behind the throne. One doesn't fire those except at ones own peril, and Bush knows this.