Thursday, January 04, 2007
Bush "The Decider" Knows How to Listen to the Men on the Ground. Huh?
Robert J. Elisberg Huffington Post
Mere weeks ago, Gen. John Abizaid, the top commander in Iraq, and other military leaders, said that increasing troops would not be wise.
It seemed likely therefore that President Bush would back off his plans for more troops. After all, the President has consistently insisted that he takes the advice of his generals and lets them decide.
"General [George] Casey will make the decisions as to how many troops we have there," Mr. Bush said this past July, referring to the Iraq commander: "He'll decide how best to achieve victory and the troop levels necessary to do so. I've spent a lot of time talking to him about troop levels. And I've told him this: I said, 'You decide, General.'"
(Coming as this does from The Decider himself, it appears a tad inconsistent.)
After his relentless insistence that the generals will decide, however, Mr. Bush went ahead and called for more troops.
And within weeks, reports have now trickled out that generals are slowly changing their thinking that just maybe it might possibly be conceivable, perhaps, to add more troops in Iraq.
What in the world could have caused the complete turnaround of these Deciders (Military Edition) in just a matter of days?
What in the world?
For starters, General Abizaid, arguably the top military voice against the increase, announced he was retiring.
Mind you, after having extended his tour at the request of then- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Abizaid's retirement was expected. So, the timing was merely coincidental.
Okay, sure, Abizaid was outspoken when testifying before the Senate on November 15, "I do not believe that more American troops right now is the solution to the problem." And sure, his departure means his protective voice will no longer be heard. But his retirement is still just a coincidence, no doubt.
The same coincidence as reports that General Casey is being moved out of Iraq five months early, the same time the Administration is changing plans. You remember General Casey. He's the one who "will make the decisions" about troops in Iraq. Just a coincidence.
As was it when three-star general John Riggs (who had earned a Distinguished Flying Cross in Vietnam) was not only given 24 hours to sign his retirement papers in April, 2004, but demoted a rank after publicly commenting about how overstretched the armed forces were in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and that more troops were then needed.
(Riggs's sin was bad timing. If he'd just made the same suggestion today, he'd not only still be in active service, but would have been promoted as a hero. And given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.)
But it was merely a coincidence. Just like General Eric Shinseki, the first Asian-American four-star general in U.S. history, who testified before the Senate in February, 2003, that "something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed in post-war Iraq. Four months later - he retired. It was scheduled, so of course it's just a coincidence. Never mind that no senior civilian officials attended his retirement to honor his long, noble service to the country. No doubt they coincidentally had other plans that day. Perhaps planting leaks about Valerie Plame.
If General Shinseki had just held his assessment until today, he'd probably have his face added to Mount Rushmore.
It's a coincidence too that Major General John Batiste, an Army division commander in Iraq - before being retired in 2005 - has been a vocal critic, telling "Good Morning America" that the United States "went into war with a flawed plan."
Army Major General Paul Eaton - who headed the training of Iraqi soldiers for two years - was equally critical of Donald Rumsfeld. Coincidentally, he's retired now.
And General Anthony Zinni, who lead the war's Central Command, told "60 Minutes" that "Heads should roll at the Pentagon - Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith and those who foisted the Iraq war on the U.S. despite my objections and those of most U.S. Generals including, Schwartkopf, Skowcroft, Clark, Shinseki and others." Oh, by the way, he's retired, too.
But it's just a coincidence.
It's all just a coincidence.
President Bush says he listens to his generals, and let's them decide what troops are needed. But let anyone disagree - at the beginning of the war saying we need more soldiers, or in the current fighting that we don't - and the Decider will coincidentally decide the United States no longer needs their service.
Of course the generals are now saying what the President wants. These are professional tacticians. They can read a battlefield and know when to retreat. When your commander-in-chief is mowing down anyone who coincidentally disagrees with him, you coincidentally tell him what he wants to hear. No matter if what he wants to hear is against your career-long knowledge and has coincidentally lead to the worst foreign affairs fiasco in American history.
In 1170, King Henry II pondered out loud, "Who wouldst rid me of this turbulent priest?," and not so surprisingly, Thomas Becket was murdered. Coincidentally.
Times have become so much more civilized.
History teaches us another lesson: When you get rid of everyone who will say no, all you get is a bucketful of yes.