RANGER AGAINST WAR: Full of Sound and Fury <

Monday, September 25, 2006

Full of Sound and Fury

I'm less than impressed with the criticisms against the Iraqi invasion now issued by retired military officers ("Retired Officers Criticize Rumsfeld", David Espo, AP Special Correspondent, Salon.com, 9/25/06).

All career military men know the time for questions is before the issuance of the operation plan. Criticizing the plan years following its implementation, when you are safely out of the planning room, is disingenuous and self-serving.

What is lacking from our administrative and military behavior is the consideration of all options before decisions are made. We should be operating from a realistic planning posture which integrates all eventualities, and does not project only willful desires. All op plans address before/during/after the mission. This is so basic I do not even need to comment on it. Soldiers are trained to do this, so why not our senior civilian Department of Defense appointees?

Major General Bastiste is quoted in the article as saying, "Rumsfeld at one point threatened to fire the next person who mentioned the need for a post-war plan in Iraq." However, nobody at the time played "You bet your bars," as far as I can see. Even Colin Powell, who couldn't be fired, held his criticism in abeyance.

The problem is systemic, as the officer corps is professional and unhinged from society in general. The military lives by rules and customs and courtesies that are not reflective of U.S. society, and certainly not reflective of civilian values such as openness and free discussion.

As illustration, during the Clinton years, Army level directives were issued which forbade soldiers from telling Clinton jokes, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (USMJ) forbids any Army serviceman from making derogatory comments about the Commander in Chief, even if the comments happen to be true.

If this sounds like the cautionary fairy tale The Emperor's New Clothes, you are correct. Dialog is not
generally viewed as a military virtue. Therefore, if dialog is to occur, the civilian leadership must add this to the mix. And that countering civilian dialog should come from the Congress, which unfortunately has been AWOL from this debate all along.

Only two options are currently considered on the national level regarding the Iraq morass, and with minor variations they are, (1) cut and run, or (2) stay the course. Simplistic and jingoistic, neither realistically addresses the issues at hand.

Also interesting is the fact that the current criticism is focused only on the operational aspects of the U.S. plans, but nobody questions the ground zero of this entire project: the very legality or morality of the preemptive invasion itself. The ruling that we wrote at Nuremburg in 1945--that aggressive wars are illegal--is lost on our present administration.



Anonymous duncanidho said...

I often thought as we becam an all volunteer organization, it became more important to manage our careers, to go along to get along, instead of doing the right thing.

(Institutional comfort factor??)

I mean it was an initial entry SPeedy four that took the tarp off of abu graib... Not an NCO, not a 2nd LT, not even a CPT...

Monday, October 2, 2006 at 2:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I do believe for this reason (i.e., careerism) an army of citizen soldiers--that is, a drafted one--is more likely to do the right thing, reflecting the ideals of society as a whole. This was the rationale behind the ROTC program.

The ROTC officers were supposed to counterbalance the career West Pointers.

I hesitate to discuss the Roman army, but it is a useful parallel.


Monday, October 2, 2006 at 4:52:00 PM GMT-5  

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