Revolt of Generals on Eve of Electionsby Jeffrey Steinberg
On Oct 26, several hundred active duty, reserve, and National Guard soldiers issued an Appeal for Redress to the U.S. Congress, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The short petition-statement, initiated by active duty servicemen based in the Norfolk, Virginia area, and sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out, read: "As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq. Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home."
The statement is circulating for additional signatures, through the website www.appealforredress.org, and will be formally presented to members of Congress on Martin Luther King Day in January 2007.
The unprecedented initiative by active-duty soldiers and sailors, taken under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, occurs in the midst of a renewed assault on the Bush-Cheney Administration's bankrupt Iraq war policy, by a growing number of retired flag officers, who have demanded the firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and, more recently have called on voters to oust the Republican majorities in the U.S. House and the Senate on Nov. 7.
Stopping the Next Disastrous War
On Oct. 16, The Nation published a cover-story, "Revolt of the General—Military Officers Speak Out Against A Failed War," by Richard J. Whalen, a prominent Republican Party strategist. Whalen began his piece: "A revolt is brewing among our retired Army and Marine generals. This rebellion—quiet and nonconfrontational, but remarkable nonetheless—comes not because their beloved forces are bearing the brunt of ground combat in Iraq, but because the retirees see the U.S. adventure in Mesopotamia as another Vietnam-like, strategically failed war, and they blame the errant, arrogant civilian leadership at the Pentagon."
The fact that a leading left-of-center journal like The Nation would highlight the work of a leading conservative writer and strategist with decades of service to the Republican Party, underscores the growing bipartisan movement to sink the disastrous Bush-Cheney Administration and prevent the launching of new preventive wars, including a strike against Iran that could likely include the use of nuclear weapons, and would lead to a perpetual "clash of civilizations" war stretching from Southwest Asia around the globe.
Indeed, in the concluding section of his lengthy The Nation piece, Whalen observed that "The retired generals' revolt may be inspired by their apprehension over a wider Mideast conflict spreading to potentially nuclear Iran." Citing retired Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, Whalen wrote, "She speculates that the generals are trying to get rid of Rumsfeld now to head off a conflict with Iran. The Bush Administration," he continued, "has contingency plans to bomb Iran's UN-disapproved nuclear sites. Some under-employed Navy and Air Force officers are lobbying to strike Iran, but the overstretched ground combat forces overwhelmingly oppose it as the worst of all possible wars."
Other retired military officers have echoed the same view that the revolt is driven more by concern that an unchecked Bush-Cheney White House will soon strike Iran and, perhaps North Korea. In a recent New Yorker magazine piece, Seymour Hersh reported that a number of retired officers with whom he spoke viewed the recent Lebanon invasion by Israel as "a prelude to a potential American preemptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations." Retired Naval officer and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told Hersh that, "If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israeli Defense Forces—can't pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million.... The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the [Lebanese] population against the Israelis."
Despite the lessons of Lebanon, Hersh and his military sources are all convinced that an American preventive air strike against Iran is all-but-certain, under the present White House policy trajectory, before Bush-Cheney leave office in January 2009.
Vote Against the War Party
Clearly reflecting this perception, a number of senior retired military officers—with recent combat experience in Iraq—have come out calling on American voters to put the Democratic Party back in power in the Congress on Nov. 7. Maj. Gen. John Batiste (USA-ret.) and Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (USA-ret.) have given interviews to Salon, an online magazine, calling for a Democratic victory. "The best thing that can happen right now is for one or both of our houses to go Democratic so we can have some oversight," General Batiste told Salon's Mark Benjamin.
General Eaton echoed the sentiments, telling Salon, "The way out that I see is to hand the House and the Senate to the Democrats and get this thing turned around," referring to the deepening Iraq quagmire. Citing other military officers, active-duty and retired, who share the same view, Eaton explained, "Most of us see two more years of the same if the Republicans stay in power." A lifelong Republican, like Batiste, Eaton added, "You could not have tortured me enough to vote for Mr. Kerry or Mr. Gore, but I'm not at all thrilled with who I did vote for." An unnamed active-duty senior officer who was also recently in Iraq, added, "I will tell you, in the circles I talk to, the only way to enable or enact change is to change the leadership."
A senior U.S. intelligence source echoed the military revolt in a recent discussion with EIR, describing the situation in Iraq as "100 times worse than the picture presented in the U.S. media and by Administration officials."
Col. W. Patrick Lang (USA-ret.), the former Defense Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, who runs the widely read website Sic Semper Tyrannis 2006, recently warned that rumors circulating around Washington about a Bush-Cheney "course correction" on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are "hooey." Colonel Lang wrote that Congress has a few options to curb the war party at the White House. They can un-authorize the war powers granted to the President in October 2002, and they can cut off the funds for a continuing Iraq misadventure.
All of these issues are on the table for voters on Nov. 7, and the institution of the U.S. armed forces has weighed in about as forcefully as ever to force a change in direction.