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Ear to the Ground

The Nation: Generals Revolt

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Posted on Apr 17, 2006

Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, asks, “Is there a retired general left in the States who hasn’t called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fall on his sword?”


The Nation:

Batiste. Eaton. Newbold. Riggs. Zinni….Is there a retired general left in the States who hasn’t called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fall on his sword? While The Nation suggested he resign in April, 2003, an unanticipated and unprecedented cast of characters has joined the growing chorus.

Maj. Gen. John Batiste (US Army, Ret.) is the latest in a line of top military brass to ask the embattled Rumsfeld to step down. As the Washington Post reported Thursday, Batiste said, “It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense.”

Volumes indeed. Batiste commanded an army division in Iraq and was offered three-stars as well as the No. 2 position there. He chose instead to retire rather than continuing to serve under Rumsfeld. Batiste believes “... the administration’s handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles….” And, as he told The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, “...the strategic underpinnings of this war can be traced back in policy to the secretary of defense. He built it the way he wanted it.”

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By simba, April 18, 2006 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That former Pentagon Brass are calling / demanding Rumsfeld’s resignation at this time sheds little light on an already murky view of the Bush administration’s failing grip on the War on Terror. 

When questioned earlier in the week about the rising call for his departure, Rumsfeld replied, “this too shall pass.”  This is a quote that harkens back to King Solomon’s attempts to disgrace a trusted member of his cabinet, Benaiah, by sending him on an impossible mission to find a ring that has “magical powers.”  ‘“If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility.’ (See http://www.wscribe.com/parables/pass.html). 

The scenario above might indeed be representative of the goose chase that Rumsfeld had sent his five star ministers on, when they were dispatched to Iraq under the auspices that WMDs were hiding out there in the Sumerian desert somewhere.  Well, it’s become clear that such weapons were not in Iraq’s possession.  So, time passes, a nation is searched, one broken down door at a time, and Rumsfeld’s minions come up empty.  Should this alone be cause for their distaste?  Many of the retired brass find that the situation in Iraq is changing in such a way that an inevitable outcome looms on the horizon: Civil War, and perhaps a total loss of control of strategic interests.

But the larger question, one that seems to be emerging here, is this: Are the retired generals calling for regime change in the US?  A quick reference to the end of King Solomon’s Magic Ring parable might shed some light into the future.  ‘To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: _gimel, zayin, yud_, which began the words “_Gam zeh ya’avor_”—“This too shall pass.” At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.’ 

The difference between this nugget of wisdom and today’s oligarchy is that these generals have that gold ring; they’ve been in possession of it all along.  They sold it to Iraq in the 1980s.  Rumsfeld signed the receipts.  Now there’s panic in the air, because the Middle East climate has changed, and those once-profitable military industrial contracts, and their deadly fruit, are returning in ways that the Pentagon might not have foreseen. So the very WMD architects, this group of AARP card carrying mass murderers with brass stars on their shoulders, is worried that things have gone astray in the Bush Administration.

Perhaps Iran must be contained while the US pursues a new generation of Bunker Busting nuclear armaments, and meanwhile the world watches on in disbelief at the irony of it all.  Perhaps this call for Rumsfeld’s resignation is more than just a loose complaint, maybe what we’re seeing here is a military call to action.  A communiqué delivered not through the rank and file of the armed services, but one designed to instigate, agitate and break confidence among the active duty generals and other high ranking uniformed officers.  Containing that chain reaction might just prove to be as illusive as those those WMDs buried in the deserts of Sumaria.  The question is, will a new king make any difference in our sprint towards Armageddon?

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