Civilian control over the military is a long established democratic
tradition in our country. It was the military that was believed by our
founding fathers to be susceptible to plunging our country into foreign
adventure. Presently, however, the boondoggles, crimes and recklessness
of draft-dodging George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and former Air Force pilot,
Donald Rumsfeld, together with their draft-dodging neo-con associates,
have turned this expectation upside down. The civilians are the war-mongers.
Probably the least told story of the Iraq war-quagmire is the extent to
which the Pentagon military, especially the U.S. Army brass, disagrees
with and despises these civilian superiors. Donald Rumsfeld, one of the
most disliked of the Secretaries of Defense, has spent much energy
making sure that high level dissent in the military is muzzled and
overlayered by his loyalists.
Just last week Rumsfeld demoted three military service chiefs in the
Pentagon hierarchy and replaced them with three loyalists who previously
worked for his buddy Dick Cheney.
Right from the beginning the U.S. Army brass opposed the invasion of
Iraq for both military and strategic reasons. They believed such an
attack would absorb massive human and material resources that would
divert from the chase after the 9/11 terrorists and the resolution of
the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They disagreed with the paucity of
soldiers that Bush/Cheney and Rumsfeld were to send there. They were
appalled by the lack of post-war planning directives by the Administration.
At the 4 star general level, the Army brass knew Saddam Hussein was a
tottering dictator, embargoed, surrounded and contained by the U.S.,
Britain, Turkey, and Israel, and unable to field an army equipped with
minimum loyalty and equipment. They also knew that going to Iraq would
be the gigantic equivalent of batting a large bee hive. To this day Army
commanders in Iraq, most recently General George Casey, recognize that
the U.S. military occupation is a magnet for more and more terrorists
from inside and outside Iraq. CIA Director Porter Goss was more explicit
before Congress last February testifying that occupied Iraq is a
recruiting and training ground for more terrorists who will return to
their countries for more disruption.
When Colin Powell was at the Pentagon, he developed what came to be
known as the Powell Doctrine-know clearly what your military and
political objectives are, follow up with overwhelming force and have a
clear exit plan. Bush/Cheney, Rumsfeld violated this Doctrine. Their
only objective was to topple their former ally, in the Eighties, Saddam
Hussein. After that, they were clueless and surprised by the insurgency.
To top Army officers, the worst of all worlds is Iraq. Their Chief of
Staff, General Eric Shinseki, after testifying before Congress about the
need for over 300,000 soldiers for any such invasion, found his
retirement accelerated. Draft-dodger Paul Wolfowitz, then number two in
the Pentagon, rejected his estimate and recommended less than half that
Retired high military officers, diplomats and intelligence officials,
with good sources inside the Department of Defense, say that the
military is furious with Bush/Cheney. The latter orders torture with
thinly veiled instructions and dubious legal memos and when disclosed,
as at Abu Gharib, the Army takes the rap to its reputation.
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld start these so-called commando groups, which
included ex-Saddam toughs, and their predictable atrocities against
young Sunni men becomes the U.S. Army's headache to restrain. The idea
behind these outlaw, death squads, reported/ The/ /New York Times
Magazine/ last year, was to enable summary destruction of arbitrary
'suspects' and terrorization of the Sunni population. The Army kept
telling Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld that such Administration-approved mayhem
was backfiring and fueling more hatred by the Sunnis against the U.S.,
its troops, and these hired gangs.
The Administration finally responded by telling the Army to assign more
men to advise and monitor these gangs which the U.S. is equipping and
Other sources of irritation within the military is Bush/Cheney making
sure that the fallen soldiers and the injured soldiers are returned in
stealth fashion at Dover Air Force base and Andrews Air Force base
outside of Washington, D.C. Bush/Cheney do this for political reasons,
knowing opposition to the war increases as U.S. casualties mount.
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld still refuse to count officially U.S. soldiers who
are injured outside a combat situation, again for political reasons.
This keeps the official injury count at about one third of the real
total. Career Army officers do not like their solders being used this way.
The Army is also upset over the loss of some of their senior officers
and non-commissioned officers to the giant corporate contractors
operating in this cost-plus environment of maximum profit for less than
maximum service. These companies are hiring away these experienced
soldiers with offers that double or triple their salaries to do the very
privatized jobs which the Army used to do for itself. In a tight skilled
manpower situation, the Army finds this drain to be undermining its mission.
On the surface, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld are heavy on their photo
opportunities with the troops, heavy with the flattery that these
political tricksters heap on the soldiers and alert to any potential
There was a recent slip up though. At a Pentagon news conference,
November 29th , a reporter asked General Peter Pace, the chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, what should American soldiers in Iraq do if
they witness Iraqi security forces abusing prisoners. The General's
reply: "It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service
member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene and
Standing next to him, the calculating conniver, Donald Rumsfeld tried to
distort the words of the forthright Pace by saying that American
soldiers only had an obligation to report any mistreatment.
In a nutshell, that is the difference between the Pentagon military and
their arrogant civilian superiors who have disrespected their judgment
and ordered them to shut up and follow unlawful policies. Meanwhile the
quagmire bleeding Iraq continues in its way to bleed America. Speak up
military. Remember the Nuremberg principles.