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God Damn Hippies!
September 2, 2003 7:08 PM   Subscribe

James Webb, former Secretary of the Navy: "I am very troubled by the fact that we went into Iraq and very troubled about how we're going to get out of Iraq.'' Recently ousted Army Secretary Thomas E. White, in his new book/Iraq blueprint concurs: "Clearly the view that the war to `liberate' Iraq would instantly produce a pro-United States citizenry ready for economic and political rebirth ignored the harsh realities on the ground." Is the rift between military and civillian leadership in the Pentagon growing?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly (19 comments total)

 
Let's see. This guy lost his job and now he's critical of those who forced him out. Sour grapes? I'd consider the source.
posted by khisel at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2003


Is the rift between military and civillian leadership in the Pentagon growing?

Yes. With any luck, it will get wide enough that we'll see our nation's first military coup.
posted by namespan at 7:55 PM on September 2, 2003


Let's see. This guy lost his job and now he's critical of those who forced him out. Sour grapes? I'd consider the source.
Having considered the source, I'd say any Secretary of the Navy who lost his job for disagreeing with Rumsfeld deserves a listen. Or you could say "sour grapes" and turn Fox News up louder.
posted by uosuaq at 8:03 PM on September 2, 2003


I'd say any Secretary of the Navy who lost his job for disagreeing with Rumsfeld deserves a listen.

Actually, it was the Secretary of the Army who butted heads with Rumsfeld. Webb was Secretary of the Navy under Reagan. Here's an article about his views on Iraq, via Joe Conason, who has more good links.
posted by homunculus at 8:16 PM on September 2, 2003


Let's see. This guy lost his job and now he's critical of those who forced him out. Sour grapes? I'd consider the source.

This asshat lost an election to a dead guy, do we still have to listen to him?
posted by m@ at 8:20 PM on September 2, 2003


Here's a thread from last September about an article Webb wrote warning against going in and getting bogged down in Iraq.
posted by homunculus at 8:24 PM on September 2, 2003


Whoa, six comments and no one notes Ignatius linked the same thing for both names?
posted by y2karl at 8:40 PM on September 2, 2003


I was just gonna say that y2karl.

As for job loss, seems there was a fair amount of that for people who disagreed with the party line:

"After 39 years in the Marines, including commands in Somalia and Iraq, Gen. Anthony Zinni never imagined he would be tagged "turncoat."...After Zinni challenged the administration's rationale for the Iraq war last fall, he lost his job as President George W. Bush's Middle East peace envoy after 18 months.
"I've been told I will never be used by the White House again."


Gen Schwarzkopf and Gen. Wesley Clark and many other experienced military leaders predicted many of the current scenarios pre war, and then there was a great deal of dissent about tactics and a lot of highly experienced military voices raising pre-war objections. But in the rush to war, dissent and discussion were stifled.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:56 PM on September 2, 2003


And the fellow-travellers, from that sad ideologically crazed rush to war, are now jumping off like rats deserting a sinking ship.

*Scurry scurry. Plop! Splash! ( swim swim swim )*
posted by troutfishing at 9:12 PM on September 2, 2003


Weren't a lot of people calling for White to leave because of his Enron ties? No matter what evidence he cites in his book, I hold my nose and consider the source. Recently, too, General Clark has gotten some brutal comments over his handling of the Kosovo situation--even Lou Dobbs banned him for politicking when he was supposed to be a war analyst for CNN. He sounds from some like the very worst kind of arrogant and ambitious brown-noser.
As far as Zinni goes, you can be in strong disagreement, like Colin Powell has been, and still not chime up to the media, which Zinni, and just about everyone else in the administration knows, is anathema to their boss. Argue, yes. Argue in public, no. So what do you do if someone breaks the rules? I suspect that Zinni was canned because he believed so strongly that he was right, he was willing to be fired. Which usually results in your getting fired, right or not.
Schwartzkopf has a better argument. He obviously is apprehensive about Rumsfeld, probably doesn't care for him, but really hedges his bets about Iraq. Over and over he says, "I don't know", and hesitates to use military force--the hallmark of a good general. (He also shows his disdain for those who he suspects are militarists, who actually enjoy the idea of the use of force.)
If you could elicit Colin Powell's *honest* viewpoint, he would probably say many things similar to Schwartzkopf.
But you will never see it in print, even in his memoirs. Loyalty is too strong for that.
posted by kablam at 9:25 PM on September 2, 2003


Sorry about the botched link. Here it is.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:31 PM on September 2, 2003


Annual Iraq Occupation Cost May Hit $29B
posted by homunculus at 10:47 PM on September 2, 2003


You can take it!
posted by niceness at 6:04 AM on September 3, 2003


namespan - Speaking as a former member of the military, I hope that we never see a military coup in this country. Other than the imposition of a strict fundamentalist theocracy, I can't see anything that would be worse for us.
posted by Irontom at 7:23 AM on September 3, 2003


Nice War. Here's The Bill.
posted by y2karl at 9:00 AM on September 3, 2003


That is, Nice War, Here's The Bill.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 AM on September 3, 2003


From your link y2karl:
Let's face it, rebuilding Iraq is going to be far more expensive than Americans have been led to believe. Just as it seems inevitable that concessions must be made to get other countries to relieve the burden on American troops, now is the time to mend fences with the United Nations and our allies to relieve the burden on American taxpayers as well.


Jesus, the cheek of it.
posted by niceness at 9:10 AM on September 3, 2003


A quick plug for TPM which is covering this really well.

"Is the rift between military and civillian leadership in the Pentagon growing?"

Josh Marshall thinks so, based partly on this piece in the Washington Post ...

"The Post article doesn't quite draw the inference explicitly. And at this point I'm just speculating. But that sounds a lot like Rumsfeld's chiefs are doing an end-run around him. Acrimony between Rumsfeld and the Chiefs would be nothing new. It almost cost him his job before 9/11. But their willingness and ability to buck him would be something new."
posted by grahamwell at 11:16 AM on September 3, 2003


Irontom -- I was kidding, trying (badly) to make a subtle point that as much as I think our current military-alienating overlords suck, something that sucks worse is the reverse situation: military control of civilians. Civilian control of the military is a bedrock ground rule for the concept we call America, even when our civilian leadership is... problematic.

The best thing to do is not emphasize the rift, but rather emphasize that rather than lauding our current administration for their toughness, military professionals -- men and women who have made it their profession to put their lives on the line for this country and know how to do that job as well as possible -- don't see them as strong, they see them as boneheaded. The "right wing" gets far to easy a ride on their perception of "strength."
posted by namespan at 12:29 PM on September 3, 2003


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