The revelation that as many as 15 retired general officers of the United States Army and Air Force aided and abetted the Bush Administration’s Iraq disinformation campaign while simultaneously pimping government contractors and acting as media whores comes as no surprise. Retired general officers are the glue that welds the military and the industrial complexes together.
Generals hold a unique place in the American landscape. They belong to a very exclusive club and after retirement are sought as military experts in industry, academia, think tanks and with the media. They are also subject to recall to active service for the rest of their lives. General Pete Schoomaker was the latest general to be wooed from retirement to serve Donald Rumsfeld as the Army Chief of Staff after the demise of General Eric Shinseki, apparently there existing no other active army general capable of doing the job.
The most galling aspect of this scandal is that these retired generals should be noted for their role in the needless deaths of soldiers serving in Iraq. Had they not voluntarily bent over the proverbial desk to be bred by the Bush Administration they could have worked inside the Department of Defense to change the stupidity of the conduct of the occupation of Iraq in the first place. Instead, succumbing to greed and the continuing desire to be relevant, they sold the lives of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for a few pieces of silver and rides on fancy jets.
The voices of these same retired generals could have been used for the “disloyal” purpose of informing Americans about the true costs of war in terms of soldiers and materiel. Perhaps together they could have positively influenced the conflict’s failed course and brought with it some understanding and intelligence. Instead we received their simple regurgitation of the War Department’s talking points, aiding and abetting the administration’s effort in crushing all dissent and silencing the generals that actually served in Iraq and had the guts to speak up (albeit with their pensions safely in hand).
Tough questions are not a form of disloyalty; they are a necessary agent for clarification and change. This is something too few generals understand or tolerate. Their sole purpose seemed to be to make a few bucks as media analysts, scrabble for relevance and in some cases protect the profits of their corporate masters.
These same generals were notably silent when the Bush administration sent soldiers into combat with vaporware strategy, an ill-conceived mission, and an ever-changing, incoherent and mutually exclusive set of combat priorities.
Their deafening silence and their complicity in failed “strategy” after “strategy” of the Bush administration is testimony to their greed and ego. Inflated egos and sense of self-importance developed by serving as and being served by legions of sycophants is the hallmark of too many generals.
It took three years for the collective Department of Defense genius to develop the “Surge Strategy,” something that is actually a tactical reinforcement. It’s no wonder they continued to recite, with feeling, that the “surge” was a strategy and it was working when it was and remains a camouflaged “stay the course” set of policies, tried and failed.They did worse than if they had simply kept their mouths shut, harboring their secret doubts about the conduct of the occupation and the resulting insurgency. They didn’t need to participate in this DOD scam. In terms of what American taxpayers pay for retired generals’ pensions, now at 100% of their base pay, the American people deserve better.