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Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Pentagon revolt?

The Times of London is reporting that the Bush administration faces a possible Pentagon revolt if it attacks Iran.
A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.
So let's take yet another quick look back to 1968, via PBS's American Experience: Vietnam Online
CLARK CLIFFORD: I know for three full days I spent down in the tank with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where you sit with all of the communications devices that go all over the world. We had long talks. How long would it take? They didn't know. How many more troops would it take? They didn't know. Would 206,000 answer the demand? They didn't know. Might there be more? Yes, there might be more. So, when it was all over, I said, "What is the plan to win the war in Vietnam?" Well, the only plan is that ultimately the attrition will wear down the North Vietnamese and they will have had enough. Is there any indication that we've reached that point? No, there isn't.

As a result of that kind of interview, and that kind of information, before the final examination was over and we submitted our reports to President Johnson, I had turned against the war.
It is, of course, facile to say that history always repeats itself. Clifford was dealing with generals who tended to be "hawks," in Cold War parlance, and I've long suspected that we have some very intelligent, thoughtful generals today who have been hamstrung by the idiots in the Cheney adminsitration. Still, one cannot help but be struck by the potential parallel of a Secretary of Defense breaking with a president on a disastrous foreign adventure. (And yes, I do notice that the Times of London report is talking about Iran rather than Iraq, but it's kind of difficult not to see the saber rattling against Iran as part and parcel of the same bad policy in that region of the world.)

If Gates and senior Pentagon officials are indeed deeply concerned, then it speaks to the resilience of American democracy and to the kinds of quality citizens we can find, still, in the military and the government.

That being said, I can't find any evidence at all that the Bush administration will listen to anyone, at all. They're still fighting the war on Fox Noise Channel, as if creating a conservative fantasy universe on television in the US will transfer their will to the other side of the world. It's bizarre, it's dangerous and I sure hope that good folks in the Pentagon see that, as the British news report suggests.

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