Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Army's 1st Division in Iraq, charges that Rumsfeld does not seek nor does he accept the counsel of field commanders. Maj. Gen. John Riggs echoes Batiste. This directly contradicts what President Bush has told the nation.
Maj. Gen. Charles J. Swannack, former field commander of the 82nd Airborne, believes we can create a stable government in Iraq, but says Rumsfeld has mismanaged the war.
As of Good Friday, the Generals' Revolt has created a crisis for President Bush. If he stands by Rumsfeld, he will have taken his stand against generals whose credibility today is higher than his own.
But if he bows to the Generals' Revolt and dismisses Rumsfeld, the generals will have effected a Pentagon putsch. An alumni association of retired generals will have dethroned civilian leadership and forced the commander in chief to fire the architect of a war upon which not only Bush's place in history depends, but the U.S. position in the Middle East and the world. The commander in chief will have been emasculated by retired generals. The stakes could scarcely be higher.
Whatever one thinks of the Iraq war, dismissal of Rumsfeld in response to a clamor created by ex-generals would mark Bush as a weak if not fatally compromised president. He will have capitulated to a generals' coup. Will he then have to clear Rumsfeld's successor with them?
Bush will begin to look like Czar Nicholas in 1916.
And there is an unstated message of the Generals' Revolt. If Iraq collapses in chaos and sectarian war, and is perceived as another U.S. defeat, they are saying: We are not going to carry the can. The first volley in a "Who Lost Iraq?" war of recriminations has been fired.
In 1951, Gen. MacArthur, the U.S. commander in Korea, defied Harry Truman by responding to a request from GOP House leader Joe Martin to describe his situation. MacArthur said the White House had tied his hands in fighting the war.
Though MacArthur spoke the truth and the no-win war in Korea would kill Truman's presidency, the general was fired. But MacArthur was right to speak the truth about the war his soldiers were being forced to fight, a war against a far more numerous enemy who enjoyed a privileged sanctuary above the Yalu river, thanks to Harry Truman.
In the last analysis, the Generals' Revolt is not just against Rumsfeld, but is aimed at the man who appointed him and has stood by him for three years of a guerrilla war the Pentagon did not predict or expect.
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