Friday, April 14, 2006


General Knowledge

It's funny that the automatic assumption in Washington is that there is something conspiratorial afoot. The sudden chorus of voices against Donald Rumsfeld must be somehow "coordinated":

"I have not talked to the other generals," [retired Maj. Gen. John] Batiste, interviewed from Rochester, N.Y., said on NBC's 'Today' show. Nevertheless, he said he thinks the clamor for Rumsfeld to step down is "happening for a reason."

Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division forces in Iraq, said he declined an opportunity to get a promotion to the rank of lieutenant general and return to the wartorn country as the No. 2 U.S. military officer because he could not accept Rumsfeld's tough management style.

He said he does not believe Rumsfeld has been sufficiently accountable for the plan that led to the invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein, although he also said that 'we have no option but to succeed in Iraq.'

"I support civilian control (of the military) completely,' Batiste told interviewers on CBS's 'The Early Show."

But, he added, "we went to war with a flawed plan that didn't account for the hard work to build the peace after we took down the regime. We also served under a secretary of defense who didn't understand leadership, who was abusive, who was arrogant, and who didn't build a strong team."
Asked why he was focusing his criticism on Rumsfeld and not President Bush, Batiste replied, "My focus is on the Department of Defense. It's what I know."

Rather than coordination or conspiracy, there is a far more basic human instinct that explains all the generals stepping forward -- safety in numbers.

As soon as one or two step forward, it encourages others who quietly had the same concerns to to do the same. It's easier to dismiss one or two as cranks or malcontents; it's much harder when it is a half-dozen men who had high-ranking leadership roles in the service and the specific mission.

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