As soon as it came to light that (surprise!) some generals don't like Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld, the anti-rummy crowd from left and right jumped up and crowed triumphantly. Pat Buchanan, someone I have long found thoroughly exasperating, wrote a vague column
citing the people who somehow get instant credibility since they are retired generals and supposedly know. But it certainly isn't that simple.
Major Gen. Paul Eaton, first of the five rebels to speak out, was in charge of training Iraqi forces until 2004. He blames Rumsfeld for complicating the U.S. mission by alienating our NATO allies.
Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs up to the eve of war, charges Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith with a "casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions -- or bury the results."
Etc, etc...the list includes a couple more. But Pat got some worthwhile feedback from military readers
These generals are largely politicians. Zinni, Shinseki and some of the others rose to command during the Clinton years, and gained those posts not because of demonstrated command skill, but because they knew how to kiss Democrat a**. Wesley Clark was the most blatant, and his failings as a field commander had been known since Vietnam. Some political generals in our past proved to be able commanders, but most (Sigel, Butler, McClernand) proved to be disasters. It doesn't matter if a general has a West Point commission, if he's a politician, he'll be a lousy commander.....and the generals who are complaining were lousy commanders.
To put it in the words of a classmate of mine (a Marine on reserve) who got to video conference with him, "he's all business." The Washington Times further debunked the charges
from these politician/generals with counter statements from other commanders, as well as the continuing stream of praise from the White House (well worth the read). However, especially interesting is the explanation some had for the criticism.
Several retired senior officers also say the calls from the six generals were inspired by Mr. Rumsfeld's far-reaching transformation of their services and his refusal to increase active forces by a large number.
The officers defending Mr. Rumsfeld say the complaints are an institutional battle between the generals, who think Mr. Rumsfeld is damaging the Army, and the defense secretary, who thinks he is better organizing it for post-Cold War 21st-century threats.
This checks closely with what Rowan Scarborough writes in his biography of Mr. Rumsfeld and the issues he faced at the outset of the Bush presidency. Rumsfeld's War
is an eye opener if nothing else. I had a profound respect for Mr. Rumsfeld's conduct even before I read the book, and I came away with a much better understanding of the man who has helped decide the destiny of our nation many times over the past half-century.