Friday, April 14, 2006

The newest political sport: Counting the generals who are calling for Rumsfeld’s head

Until this week, my favorite political sport was watching and rooting on the rapid decline of George W. Bush’s approval ratings. Bush is now descending through the 30s. Anyone want to take bets that he can make it to the 20s? This week, though, my favorite sport is counting generals – that’s the angry, retired kind, the ones calling for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s head. This would be fun if the situation in Iraq wasn’t so serious. People are dying and being tortured because of this administration’s incompetence and arrogance.

The latest count is six generals with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius thrown in to add a little spice. This morning Google News reported that it had found 738 stories in the mainstream media on this topic. I haven’t checked to see how many folks a blogging on this, but I suspect it’s many more than seven hundred and something.

From Newsweek:

Retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq until last November, appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to reiterate criticisms he leveled earlier this week.

Batiste said Rumsfeld had “failed to build the peace” in Iraq, and criticized “a leadership style which is intimidating, abusive. There was not a two-way street of respect.”

The New York Times has the best roundup I’ve seen so far on the generals' comments. (You have to register, but it’s free.)

AP’s story is here.

Los Angeles Times reports:

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr., who commanded the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq shortly after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, became the fifth general involved in Iraq policy to call for Rumsfeld to resign, citing his handling of the war.

Swannack, like the other generals, criticized Rumsfeld's management style.

The Defense secretary "has micromanaged the generals" commanding troops in Iraq, Swannack said.

He added that Rumsfeld had "culpability" for the detainee abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and that he had failed to acknowledge his mistakes.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that young officers -- the future generals -- are leaving the Army at a frightening rate. This includes those who graduated from West Point, and would presumably have once thought they wanted a 20-year career in the military.

The Times gives a multitude of reasons for this trend. None touch on the incompetence of the Bush Administration. However, you do have to wonder if the anger of the generals and the unhappiness of captains are related.

Alternet provides background on why it's so significant that retired generals are speaking out. The military has a different code than us loose-lipped civilians. This chorus of anger may well be unprecedented.

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