April 15, 2006

Myers, Rumsfeld and 'Mind Meld'

I note that Dick Myers has been trotted out to make his pro-Rummy rounds on Fox News. This will doubtless get passed down the echo-chamber food chain to the cultish sites like Powerline and such. In this context, it's worth mentioning this delicious little tidbit from Michael Gordon's and Bernard Trainor's Cobra II, which I'm reading over Easter.

At p. 46:

Myers once jested during a Pentagon briefing for the press that he and Rumsfeld shared a "mind meld," but there were those who had a less charitable view. After hearing Rumsfeld testify on troops levels around the world, Senator John McCain...said cuttingly there was no need to hear from Myers as well since he knew the chairman was incapable of expressing an independent view.

A footnote to the main text give McCain's exact verbiage: After listening to Rumsfeld, McCain said: "I don't need General Myers' response. I know it will be exactly the same as yours. I would like the personal opinions--I would--and I don't mean that as in any way a criticism, General Myers. I would like the personal opinion of the other CINC's, if I could, since my time has expired."

Not meant in any way as a criticism....Ah-hah, sure...

UPDATE: Speaking of McCain, he commented on Rumsfeld too today:

I was asked a long time ago, I think a year and a half or two years ago, if I had confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld. I was asked that directly. I said, ‘No.'

“But the president has the right and earned the right as the president of the United States to appoint his team — and he has confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld.

“I will continue to work with Secretary Rumsfeld as much as I can as long as he is secretary of Defense. We have to, because we need to win this war.”

Posted by Gregory at April 15, 2006 07:01 PM | TrackBack (1)
Comments

But, hell, it's not criticism, it's praise. You sure know how to suck up, General Myers.

Posted by: Sanjay Krishnaswamy at April 15, 2006 07:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

But, hell, it's not criticism, it's praise. You sure know how to suck up, General Myers.

Posted by: Sanjay Krishnaswamy at April 15, 2006 07:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It would not be a desirable thing to have serving officers criticizing, even implicitly, their civilian superiors, regardless of who the Secretary of Defense is or what policy is being followed at any one time.

Giving testimony that may be seen to conflict with that given by civilian officials is different -- not always easy to distinguish from impermissable criticism, especially in view of what may be the media's lack of interest in making such a distinction, but different nonetheless. Military officers have an obligation to respect civilian authority, and part of that obligation is to respond honestly and truthfully to questions asked by Congress. Some officers meet that obligation better than others; some conform their public statements to those of their civilian superiors in the Pentagon regardless of the circumstances (historically, one should add, it has often been the other way around -- civilian Defense officials adopt the perspective of the military officers they supervise. This is frequently the case even in this administration, for example on questions relating to weapons procurement).

Having said that, though, I think this coin really ought to have another side. If public criticism of civilian officials by serving officers is (rightly) out of bounds, fulsome public praise ought to be as well. Comments by retired officers about the Secretary of Defense may be a political problem, or at least a temporary embarrassment, for the Bush administration. It should not be General Pace's problem, and his fervent praise of Sec. Rumsfeld's personal virtues the other day was for that reason inappropriate. Pace ought to have confined himself to a statement that retired officers of course have a right to express their opinions, but that as a serving Joint Chiefs Chairman it would not be his place to address their concerns in public. Uniformed officers should not put themselves in the position of being used as props or shields by an administration facing criticism. Dealing with public controversies and negative comment is the job of civilians, many of whom (including Rumsfeld) are politicians who have been doing this kind of thing for decades.

Posted by: Zathras at April 15, 2006 09:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McQ at QandO, a former military officer, gives a much more fair and balanced look at the attacks on Rumsfeld by the generals. Not unsurprisingly he finds the Beltway types in the military despise Rumsfeld, but the officers in dusty and dirty places like Ft. Benning, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Bragg absolutely love him and call affectionately call him the "110% Secretary."

I'm with McQ on this one. Greg in his usual non-stop hysterical way is once again off-base with his assessment.

QandO: The Generals and Rumsfeld, part 2

Posted by: Marlin at April 16, 2006 03:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Not unsurprisingly he finds the Beltway types in the military despise Rumsfeld, but the officers in dusty and dirty places like Ft. Benning, Ft. Stewart, Ft. Hood, Ft. Campbell and Ft. Bragg absolutely love him

You did notice practically all of the generals served in Iraq and so are not exactly beltway types ?

Posted by: Matt at April 16, 2006 04:27 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Matt

I agree that Swannack and Batiste served in Iraq, but am not sure about the others. However, your comment misses my point. These six generals appear to be the type who welcome politicizing the issue of the Iraq War. Those not in the Beltway aren't in the business of politicizing the War and appreciate what Rumsfeld has done for the Armed Services over the past 5 years.

I have to say that I'm disappointed in these generals for allowing themselves to be used. They may be legitimately disappointed in the way Rumsfeld operates. But what they have allowed themselves to become is tools for the New York Times in its never ending battle against Bush.

Wretchard at the Belmont Club has a good post about Spencer Ackerman's piece in The New Republic. Swannack doesn't come off looking so good for how he operated in Iraq either. So trying to put all the blame on Rumsfeld seems to be more than a little self-serving.

But I agree with Wretchard's conclusion.

For that reason the New Republic's article, though slightly off-base puts its finger on the most disturbing aspect of the debate over the War. The press has made consistency in the prosecution of war a virtue; just as it has made the "failure" to live up to the initial plan the ultimate sin. In consequence so much of the debate consists of archaeology. What George Bush said to Tony Blair in Downing Street. What Joe Wilson heard in Darfur. Yet consistency in war is often not virtue but vice. The hobgoblin of small minds.

Read the whole thing.

The Belmont Club: Easter weekend open post 2

Posted by: Marlin at April 16, 2006 05:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Dear Stupid Bastards in Charge of the War:

For some reason people like the owner of this blog seem to think there is some ray of hope to be had in Iraq.

Somehow I think not.

Eight months ago, the governor of Baghdad province sent a group of armed men to the mayor's office and ran him out, then installed a new one. The circumstances did not allow for the new mayor and his staff to be fully briefed, according to Busher, a lanky, professorial civil engineer prone to understatement. "Initially, the new mayor didn't even know he had a new landfill," he said.

The sewage treatment plant was opened in September; the landfill in October; and in December, the manager of the treatment plant was killed, Busher said. No one has been back to operate either facility since, he said.

The new mayor has sent letters to the prime minister and the ministers of defense and interior requesting protection for the facilities, Busher said, but has gotten no response.


link

So as men and women, civilian and military alike continue to die, idiocy like this continues.

Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: Richard Bottoms at April 16, 2006 06:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The President doesn't win a perpetual right to keep people whose incompetence or wilful blindness results in the kind of clusterf*ck Iraq has become. The President doesn't own the White House, or the country; the President has a duty of care to the country. When appointees are incapable of fulfilling that duty of care, they need to be dismissed and replaced; not kept out of some sense of monarchial privilege, or out of ideological/personal affinity.

And "the Mark Hannahs" of the GOP will continue to advance unworthy candidates as long as enough people can be gulled into voting for them. As long as voters get all of their information about candidates from paid ads and propagandists, rather than examine the candidates' actual records for themselves and bringing their own critical thinking to bear on judging those records, the voters will continue to be gulled.

Thinking that George Bush is in any way a more "serious" person than John Kerry is a monument to gulled thinking. By 2004, Bush had an ample record of non-seriousness, in domestic and foreign policy, and displayed it to stunning effect in the debates.

Everyone here who still supports Bush is going to make the same mistake in 2008. The Mark Hannahs of the GOP will still be around, will still annoint whoever best serves their interests (which are emphatically not the interests of the country), and will mount another truthless, vile propaganda campaign against whoever the Democratic candidate will be.

And you will all fall for it again.

Posted by: CaseyL at April 16, 2006 07:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think we have all the empirical evidence we need. Way too much actually the way things are going. The only question is does our ideology permit to accept this evidence. Cultural evolution has a way to deal with such ideologies that do not. (Of course if you don't happen to "believe" in any sort of evolution, you don't have to worry: things are fine and dandy, they will remain so forever.)

Posted by: llwyd at April 16, 2006 10:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"April 14, 2006: In the last six months, the U.S. Army is seeing 15 percent more soldiers re-enlist than expected. This continues a trend that began in 2001. Every year since then, the rate at which existing soldiers have re-enlisted has increased. This despite the fact that 69 percent of the troops killed in Iraq have been from the army. New recruits continue to exceed join up at higher rates as well."

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htatrit/articles/20060414.aspx

Those stupid 10th Mountain Division, 82nd idiots, dumb Special Forces, thick Rangers, don't they know all is lost? Why don't they see as the lefties, the pinched crypto anti-Semitic palo-cons and legions of informed citizens who always watch every night a major channels news programs two minute broadcast from a balcony in the Green Zone?

And the rate of enlistments is increasing. The curve is getting steeper. Especially of those who are in combat (reality) of the WOT.

Whom I going to believe? Facts or the left?

Thirty years from now a lot of men are going to be asked, “Daddy, what did you do in the WOT?” Saying you bought a Honda Prius, is going to be pretty lame.

Posted by: Paul at April 16, 2006 01:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I thought these quotes in the Washington Post from a Thomas Ricks article were noteworthy.


Military experts expressed some concern about the new outspokenness of retired generals.

"I think it flatly is a bad thing," said Richard H. Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina who writes frequently on civilian-military relations. He said he worries that it could undermine civilian control of the military, especially by making civilian leaders feel that that they need to be careful about what they say around officers, for fear of being denounced as soon as they retire.

"How can you prosecute a war if the military and civilians don't trust each other?" Kohn asked.

Also, the generals themselves may be partly to blame for the situation in Iraq, along with Rumsfeld and the White House, said Michael Vickers, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank.

"It's just absurd to lay the blame on Don Rumsfeld alone," he said.


Washington Post: Rumsfeld Rebuked By Retired Generals

Posted by: Marlin at April 16, 2006 03:22 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Whom I going to believe? Facts or the left?

facts... however, the article you cited was short on the kinds of actual facts (rathers than assertions) that could actually lead to a rational evaluation...

but wingers aren't very good at that kind of thing....

Posted by: p.lukasiak at April 16, 2006 03:42 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"but wingers aren't very good at that kind of thing...." Yea, right.

I'd say that 'wingers' are way disproportional employed in hard science, engineering, military, farming, construction, occupations like pilots, skilled trades, finance, banking and such. All of which quickly punish delusional thinking.

Posted by: Paul at April 16, 2006 03:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

>Thirty years from now a lot of men are going to be asked, “Daddy, >what did you do in the WOT?” Saying you bought a Honda Prius, is >going to be pretty lame.

Being a member of the 101st Fighting Keyborders will be seen as pretty cowardly. Espcially if you have been cheerleading the WOT(tm).

I did my time in uniform, when are the rest of you chickenhawks going to go fight?

As for buying a Prius, I believe we are in this mess due to oil dependence. At least the Prius buyer, no doubt a commie liberal who doesn't understand warfighting, has made a useful contribution.

By the way, which party has been in control for the last six years?

Because I'm not really sure who is responsible for the 2300+ dead, 17,000 wounded and billions of billions of billions poured down the toilet so far. This group has gotten everything it wanted and given us a failed policy, a failing war, torture, abuse and has not made as one bit safer at home.

I can't wait until November.

Posted by: Richard Bottoms at April 16, 2006 05:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I'd say that 'wingers' are way disproportional employed in hard science, engineering, military, farming, construction, occupations like pilots, skilled trades, finance, banking and such.

From what I've seen, hard science and engineering has more left wingers than right wing. Ditto for a lot of finance.

Posted by: Matt at April 16, 2006 05:56 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


he press has made consistency in the prosecution of war a virtue; just as it has made the "failure" to live up to the initial plan the ultimate sin. In consequence so much of the debate consists of archaeology. What George Bush said to Tony Blair in Downing Street. What Joe Wilson heard in Darfur. Yet consistency in war is often not virtue but vice. The hobgoblin of small minds.

You're right. The press seems to have this strange belief that the PResident and adminisration should be held accountable for their words and comments before the war-- wiz the claim that there were WMDs, that WMDs (bio trailers) had been found, that the war would cost less than 100 billion and so on.

Posted by: Matt at April 16, 2006 06:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

McQ at QandO has another good post today on an op-ed in the New York Times by LTG Michael DeLong, a USMC general who was the number 2 man in CENTCOM to General Tommy Franks. DeLong is not entirely complimentary to Rumsfeld, but gives a much more fair and balanced assessment of the situation than Greg has done lately.

QandO: Another retired general speaks out

Posted by: Marlin at April 16, 2006 06:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"I'd say that 'wingers' are way disproportional employed in hard science, engineering, military, farming, construction, occupations like pilots, skilled trades, finance, banking and such. All of which quickly punish delusional thinking."

You forgot to mention -- disproprotionately (or almost exclusively) likely to press for teaching creationism in science classrooms.

Posted by: erg at April 16, 2006 07:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Marlin writes: " Those not in the Beltway aren't in the business of politicizing the War and appreciate what Rumsfeld has done for the Armed Services over the past 5 years."

So what the Armed Services needed was for more of them to dead and maimed?

Well, you can certainly hand that accomplishment to Rummy.

Posted by: Jon H at April 16, 2006 11:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Myers is an asskissing joke. He is a token General to say what Bush supporters want to hear. He did such good ass licking that his niece is now in charge of ICE at Homeland Security. I wonder if Myers niece talks with Cheney's daughter at DOS. Nepotism, in Washington and Iraq, pays , I don't see Chenneys daughter or Myers niece volenteering to defend Democracy in the ME.

Posted by: Rudi at April 17, 2006 02:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I love the left. Who would of thought that people could of hung themselves again and again? Keep talking, writing, posting. I can not thank you enough. Be angry, be active. Please.

Posted by: Paul at April 17, 2006 04:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Trotted out - we know whose side you are on. There used to be a certain list to your comments. Now they are sliding off the deck.

As is my want with both ultra right and ultra left blogs the time has come to say goodbye.

Posted by: davod at April 17, 2006 05:46 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is true that the US Army is aging -- more retention, fewer newer recruits. Its age structure is shifting to older, which is good for experience, but bad for finances (more medical expenses and so forth).

But, as the present administration has little concern for finances, judging by the hundreds of billions they've flushed down the toilet, and the 9 trillion dollar deficit they apparently are hurtling towards, it may not matter much to consider costs.

Still and all, it is quite startling to have retired commanders actually speak out about a sitting SecDef -- that is shocking, in fact. Further, the fact that it includes commanders of 82nd, and of CENTCOM, and of 1 MARDIV, is even more shocking. Even more startling, it includes Marines -- Marines are usually quite reticent -- it is difficult to imagine what stirred such public remarks, esp. considering that they are risking prosecution under the UCMJ, as they are all officers still in commission.

Posted by: John Franks at April 17, 2006 08:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Has this ever happened before?

Posted by: J Thomas at April 18, 2006 12:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Has this ever happened before?

Posted by: J Thomas at April 18, 2006 12:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.


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