Of The Generals
By Ralph Nader
09 October, 2006
the U.S. military--from the soldiers on the ground to the generals--saying
publicly what they are thinking and saying privately about their two
draft-dodging but bellicose rulers in the White House.
Sometimes, reporters have
gathered a few excoriating statements from the frustrated, beleaguered,
often body armor-less GIs. One even demanded Bush's resignation from
his barracks in Iraq, which was shown on national television.
There is also the under-reported
Zogby poll released in January 2006--the only scientifically sampled
field poll in Iraq--which showed over seventy percent of the soldiers
thought the United States should withdraw in a time period ranging from
six months to a year. And this opinion in the war zone was registered
when the situation was not as bad as the quagmire is today.
As for the Generals, their
dissatisfaction with Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, goes well beyond
his brusque personality into the rigid and mistaken policies from the
beginning of this fabricated, illegal war.
Now comes the New York Times
reporter, Michael R. Gordon, with a page one story about a forthcoming
Army and Marine Corps field manual with a "new counterinsurgency
doctrine that draws on the hard learned lessons from Iraq and makes
the welfare and protection of civilians a bedrock element of military
Some might view this manual--drawing
from the experiences of bottom to top military personnel--to be an indirect
rebuke of the failed brute, force military policies of the Bush White
House. Some may also wonder what took the Pentagon so long to rediscover
old knowledge about what succeeded and failed in foreign military occupations.
Old knowledge that says reliance on sheer military power, mistreating
prisoners, and not safeguarding civilians and essential public services
fails again and again.
Well, better late than never.
This particular field manual went through many comments, consultations,
and drafts before distilling nine "representative paradoxes"
of counterinsurgency operations. Their theme is that the more force
used, the less effective it is. Staying in touch with the civilian population,
instead of staying in compounds, is more effective than a brute force
and firepower approach. Dollars and ballots have more impact than sheer
weaponry because they strengthen the host country's restoration of basic
services like police, electricity, drinking water, food, health and
Other paradoxes include one
that says "tactical success guarantees nothing," and that
"most of the important decisions are not made by generals,"
but by troops at all levels.
By now you are probably saying,
"Isn't that just repeating the obvious?" Why, yes, but when
your dogmatic, messianic commanders are Bush and Cheney, shorn of history,
common sense, and critical reactive thinking, the "obvious"
has to be conveyed as something new, lest it be seen as what it is--a
repudiation of disastrous policies from design to supply to logistics.
Col. Conrad C. Crane (Ret.),
the director of the Military History Institute at the Army War College
and a principal drafter of the new doctrine told The New York Times:
"In many ways, this is a bottom-up change. The young soldiers who
had been through Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and now Iraq and Afghanistan,
understood why we need to do this."
But the drafters of this
"new" approach know that applying it on the ground requires
more soldiers, more smarts and fewer profiteering, bungling corporate
contractors. They might have added that protecting the civilian population--in
contrast to the violent chaos and anarchy brutalizing the Iraqi people
daily--is a requirement of international law. Invaders who occupy another
country are obligated under international treaties to keep order and
to safeguard the rights and safety of civilians.
By engaging in sectarian
politics and playing favorites, among their publicized blunders, the
Bush occupation sowed the seeds of the upheavals that are tearing the
country apart at an increasing pace.
So when this field manual
reaches President Bush's desk, with the requisite cue card summaries,
the findings will likely be rejected. After all, a failed war that keeps
failing can at least point to the growth of the terroristic forces in
Iraq as the circular rationale for "staying the course."
Mr. Bush's own intelligence
reports, and not just the most recent highly publicized National Intelligence
Estimate, have concluded that the war-occupation is providing recruitment
and training grounds for terrorists.
Daddy Bush should take his
son and have him repeat after him again and again--"options for
revision," "options for revision," "options for
revision." Unless, that is, Bush and Cheney both do the country
a favor and resign.
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