How many generals oppose Rumsfeld?

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, relishes the controversy over a few retired generals who have called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Joining the media dogpile, Vanden Heuvel asks:

Batiste. Eaton. Newbold. Riggs. Zinni… Is there a retired general left in the States who hasn’t called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fall on his sword? While The Nation suggested he resign in April, 2003, an unanticipated and unprecedented cast of characters has joined the growing chorus.

So far something like six of these guys have sounded off. Heck, I’ll be generous. Let’s say a full dozen are out there talking to the mainstream media and urging Rumsfeld’s ouster. Where does that leave us? Right here, Katrina:

The dirty dozen Everybody else

Yes, that’s a giant chorus of condemnation. This is only based on the estimate that there are roughly 4,700 retired generals and admirals, so do your own math. Maybe it’ll be more persuasive.

Update: Welcome, readers of Hugh Hewitt,, TKS, Ed Driscoll, Right Wing News and RedState! Enjoy your stay here at Brain Shavings, and be sure to drop by the Buckeye Bloggers before you go.

  1. Could you go over that again? I don’t live in DC, am not part of the MSM, and I went to public High School, so I need clarification. Nice post…dead on. MM

  2. Right on the money!

  3. But, guys and dolls, the dirty dozen must have some “gravitas” as the MSM keeps on quoting them. Am I missing something? Hugh Hewett RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  4. A problem with your analysis is you don’t take into account the background of the “condemning” generals. For example, General Zinni is calling for Rumsfeld to leave. Zinni was head of Middle East Ops. Or General Batiste led the First Infantry Division in Iraq. General Eaton oversaw the training of Iraqi troops. They worked with Rumsfeld in Iraq. Your analysis might be more persuasive if you found equivalent numbers of retired generals in that 1470 count who worked with Rumsfeld in Iraq, and demanded he stay on.
    And are you purposely not making a positive argument for keeping Rumsfeld? If not, why not?

  5. Hi another! I think it is less than a complete analysis and more of an answer to a question. Did you read those wordy-looking things, or just look at the picture?

  6. Dear “another liberal”,
    Wait, I’m confused … so now it’s a numbers game completely? If I can find six generals/admirals that worked with Rumsfeld on war planning AND approve of his performance, then you’ll agree he ought to stay? Somehow I doubt it.
    Incidentally, division commanders don’t work with the Secretary of Defense. Before he commanded the 1st ID, was Batiste involved in pre-war planning for the Iraq invasion? If not, he’s not in a great position to comment on Rumsfeld’s involvement in the planning process. Nor are Major Generals Charles Swannack and John Riggs, unless I’m misinformed.
    As for General Zinni, he retired in 2000. He han’t exactly been hip-deep in war planning since then.
    My point here is to puncture the mainstream media meme that “lots of retired generals in-the-know” want Rumsfeld gone.

  7. Someone tell Hugh Hewitt that when you are going to insult the intelligence of a Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan {just because you are a Cleveland Brown perpetual loser Dawg Pound sitter} that Pittsburgh is spelled with an “H” on the end!
    The irony and the agony of defeat which being from Ohio Hugh knows all too well.

  8. Like Mother Sheehan, if MoDo gives them “absolute moral authority” then your poll don’t mean a thing. I can’t wait to see Batiste, Zinni and crew camped out at Crawford in mid-August. It will make Iraq seem like Alaska.

  9. Former Clinton CENTCOM commander, Anthony Zinni � the most prominent of the retired generals attacking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld � now says that, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, “What bothered me … [was that] I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn’t fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD.”
    But in early 2000, Zinni told Congress “Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region,” adding, “Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions … Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months.”

  10. I find it odd that men who have risen to the rank of General, would claim that they were ‘intimidated’ by Rumsfeld, and bothered that he didn’t always take thier advice. Do you suppose that if any of the soldiers positioned below these Generals were to claim to be ‘intimidated’ by them, the Generals would understand and soften their tone so as not to upset them? Or would they say, “Grow up and quit acting like a baby! Sometimes you don’t get your way.”

  11. Actually, another liberal, ALL of the generals who work(ed) directly with DefSec Rumsfeld have denounced the attacks on him now. Meyers, Pace, Franks and moreare in Don’s corner. You indicated you wanted to see that. It’s happened.
    None of those who are attacking him worked 1 on 1 with him. Their motives can’t be military– they must be political. We shall see in the next 12 months what these motives are but some are speculating already that they’ll be players in a “Draft Powell” movement for the Republican nom in 2008. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I respect their opinions as former military leaders of some accomplishment but weigh it with that long column of green figures in the post we are commenting on.

  12. Good point Magical Pat. I would add this from a founding father:
    “Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”
    –Alexander Hamilton

  13. I have some sympathy for what Puddle Pirate is saying. The way I think of it is “Do I want the Secty of Defense to be up for a vote by retired generals?” No.
    I think part of the problem too is you rightwingers are focused on the anti-Rummy generals & MSM as the disease, not the symptom. Don’t you think it’s one more symptom of a long-standing question about Rummy’s capabilities to run the war?
    Let me see if I can bring it out a little better. Do any of you feel confident in Rummy to handle an Iran War if it breaks out? C’mon. Don’t look at your White House talking points, but speak from your heart.
    It’s the liberal in me, but again, I think you rightwingers are circling the wagons, not shouting from the rooftops about how much you love this guy Rumsfeld.

  14. another liberal, your last post illustrates one of the primary problems with your position: what does “feeling confident” or “speak[ing] from your heart” have to do with the cold, hard facts of reality? This is NOT about how you feel about someone or something. It’s about the reality of results in the face of an opposition determined to blow you to itty-bitty pieces whether or not you feel good about it. Previous posters have brought up several such facts better than I could.

  15. I love Rummy and think he should stay! I liked TKS’s suggestion that Rummy should be White House spokesman. That would be fun.

  16. another liberal,
    I have full confidence in Rumsfeld’s ability. A few facts:
    -He has more time directing the DOD than anyone else in history. No one has spent more time as SecDef than Rumsfeld. Remember he served as SecDef before his current appointment by GWB.
    -He directed the most successful military effort in recent history, running through Iraq from Kuwait to Bagdad in 3 weeks, with few casulaties. This is one of the farthest, fastest, and least costly advances in modern warfare.
    -Has been at the helm for the mission in Afghanistan as well
    -Directed investigation of the Abu Ghraib incidents. I trust you remember that this issue was brought to light by the DOD’s own internal investigations, and was not “broken” by the MSM?
    I “feel” that not only can the DOD under Rumsfeld get the job done, (that’s been amply demonstrated) but they can police their own as it’s necessary.
    Exactly what part of the war in Iraq has gone so badly? Yes, it’s not exactly what we thought it would be, but warfare seldom is. The enemy makes adjustments, so you make adjustments, to which they adjust, etc. There is no doubt the war in Iraq could have been handled differently. The question is, would it have been better?

  17. How many of these contrary generals/admirals or whatever, have big book deals in the works? You know what I’m ‘talkin bout.

  18. So you’re assuming that silence equals endorsement? Looks like your making an ass of yourself.

  19. Check out this detailed takedown! (Especially you, “another liberal”)

  20. Yo ‘nother.
    I love Rummy! Changing the military is like piloting a tanker with only an Evinrude outboard. Rummy knows the job. He knows the stakes. He makes sense when he speaks. He understands the new threats.
    Generals can be disgruntled like any employee, especially when they feel they busted butt and stomped their way up only to find that the world has changed and there’s no “there” there; not like they imagined.
    It’s good that people hate Rummy – then he’s doing his job. It’s even better that he’s telling them to pound sand.
    Speaking “from the heart” is very easy when it is backed up by facts.

  21. I worked for DOD for 38 Years. Rummy is doing just fine. We are lucky to have him there, especially for the last 5 years. I can remember cringing at some of the things that happened during the Bubba and Carter years. Very, very pathetic. These generals are a reflection of inaction and a very liberal view that everything is A-OK. Don’t make waves as they used to say. That’s why many people in DOD don’t like Rummy. He makes waves – very big waves. He doesn’t need to per se. But, if you’re not going to try to change things for the better, what’s the point?

  22. Jay, there are many, many times when I’ll overlook this, but I think you mean “you’re making an ass of yourself.” When you accuse someone else of being dumb, don’t spell it wrong.
    Anyway, silence doesn’t mean endorsement, maybe silence only means they don’t have personal axes to grind, books to promote, or candidacies to push. The question comes back again: if they were independent in their criticism, why did they “happen” to come out all at the same time? I tend to think some one’s pulling the strings here.

  23. As a Marine of 6 years I am severely disappointed that the �dishonorable half dozen� have decided to take the cowards approach and call out Sec. Rumsfeld like this. As pointed out above, Gen. Zinni has lost creditability. Apparently Gen. Zinni has forgotten names like Chesty Puller and Smedley Butler, Evans C. Carlson, Red Edson, men with honor.
    Hell, General Butler had no qualms about attacking the government for using him as an oppressor and pawn of the military industrial complex after his retirement. At least he didn�t contradict himself in the process.
    Furthermore, Zinni criticizes the planning of the War in Iraq, including the number of troops utilized, however General Pace, the current Chairman of the JC�s has pointed out that every step of the way, every General involved had several occasions to bring up concerns or otherwise verbalize their disagreements, and to that end none were voiced.
    �We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds, and if we do not, shame on us because the opportunity is there,� General Pace
    So if we are to believe the current Chairman of the JC�s, who is a fellow General in the USMC, then Zinni�s comments about those that voiced their objections are in direct conflict with what the current Chairman is stating.
    Being that Zinni�s creditability is already in question due to his abovementioned self contradiction, I am more comfortable in believing General Pace.

  24. Daily News For April 19, 2006

    Domestic George Bush: “I’m The Decider, And I Decide What Is Best. And What’s Best Is For Don Rumsfeld To…

  25. The problem with retired generals is that they always want to tell everyone how they would have fought the war. And for the planning of Iraqi Freedom, a general as recently retired as H. Norman Schwarzkopf might as well have been William Westmoreland for all the changes in how the military fights. Everyone wanted to talk about numbers of “boots on the ground” and softening via air strikes, because that is the way they did it. Sorry fellas, not your war.
    And who actual believes that Rumsfeld planned the war? Wars are planned by a unified combatant commands, so in this case, US Central Command. The initial entry was Tommy Franks plan and now the execution of the war, and all associated planning, belongs to John Abizaid. Do people actually believe Rumsfeld is moving pucks on a map to control troop movements and deployment of forces?
    When I rolled into Bosnia in December 1995, I didn�t get to blame William Perry, then Sec Def, for the Sava River flooding and washing away my entire company’s vehicles, I got to blame my jackass company commander for having an assembly area within the river�s flood plain. And guess what I did the moment I knew the plan sucked? I told him. That was one of my job as XO, to make sure that I gave input to the CO.
    But my favorite part of the arm-chairing was during the initial combat phase of OIF when we had all of these retired military analysts that were talking about the wrong things…you had retired generals who haven’t fired a round at an enemy in 30 years talking about the squad-level tactics of street fighting and then a couple former majors discussing the strategic and operational planning of theater warfare when the most they ever planned was a brigade field training exercise.

  26. This sorta reminds me of ADM Crowe, who came out against Poppy in favor of Bubba back in 1992, when Bubba was on the ropes for his draft dodging and anti-military character. Crowe gave Bubba legitimacy with “military circles” as far as the MSM were concerned, and was later rewarded with the cherry posting of Ambassador to The United Kingdom.

  27. Ilove it when the liberals take on the overwhelming facts and logic with their Liberal Courage. I gueuss it is like that Image of the freedom protestors at China’s Teinaman Square and that One brave soul out in front of a tank with his arm raised in defiance. Problem is that they are on the side of Communism and actually our military is’nt about to mow them down. I am amazed that the damned tank is rolling on it’s own power since they are old Soviet crap from the Fifties. You panty waste girlie men/manly girls, are seditious heathens, and not smart enough to live in a democracy so why not set sail for Cuba and bask in the glory of a benevolent leader that reflects your ideals.

  28. I feel out of place, I’m a retired Noncommissioned Officer, US Army, Desert Storm vet. I’m a defense contractor now and was hired on to the Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group, Fort Leavenworth, Combined Arms Center to write the history of the combat phase of OIF and capture lessons learned for the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL). The book is called “On Point, The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” It can be read at the CALL homepage. I wasn’t an officer, but I sure did train alot of them, and worked with and for alot of them so I do know a little about leadership. I feel that there is enough blame to go around here. There is no doubt Rumsfeld came to the office with two guns blazing from the hip. This is not necessarily a bad leadership trait when dealing with a large organization like the Army, with uniformed leaders steeped in tradition and clearly, with a stake in protecting their corner of the Army. But we are talking about the prosecution of war. I feel the Army could have been given more latitude in authoring the campaign plan. Why did the dirty dozen not speak out earlier? Maybe they rememberd the treatment of the former CSA, General Shinsecki and the former SA, Thomas White. They both disagreed with the troop deployment levels, officially, on the record, and well before the war began. You cannot deny that both of these men were marginalized, punished in various ways and White was out and out fired for it. Is it any wonder the “Dirty Dozen” didn’t speak out earlier? They didn’t want to get “Shinseckifried.” Sometimes I found that disagreeing with the boss was bad for your promotion potential, and got you black balled by your contemporaries. In these cases, I found it better to stick around, to bite the bullet on a bad plan and remain in place to reduce the negative impact of a bad plan on your troops as much as you could. To resign in protest is counter productive, sets a bad example for the troops, and leaves them (your troops) flapping in the wind and in this case, with brand new leadership on the eve of battle. To resign is to quit. Quitting is not a trait that we imbue in our leaders at any level of the Army is it? Now that the dirty dozen are retired they are free to criticize as they please, even though they are never really, truly, civilians again for they could be recalled to active duty for courts martial. You do realize that Rumsfeld used the battlefields of Iraq to validate his vision of the smaller, high tech land force right? Our troops fought the run up country using an almost ad hoc, make it up as you go doctrine. This war should have been prosecuted under the latest tried, tested and true doctrine. The doctrine our troops were then trained in, equipped for and expert at. But they were sent to a battlefield where they were forced to use their ingenuity almost exclusively to win the combat phase of the war. It is due to the courage, leadership and ability to think on their feet of our captains, lieutenants and sergeants that won the day, they were victorious not because of the brilliant campaign plan, but in spite of it. We didn’t have enough troops in country to maintain control of terrain, key towns were moved through or bypassed, leaving them open for enemy reoccupation and the opportunity to attack the next force to move through, almost all tactical movement was a movement to contact, slow, ponderous, physically and emotionally draining. We didn’t have enough troops to occupy or to even guard important government buildings in Baghdad and irreplaceble documents and records disappeared among the thousands of giddy Iraqis skittering back and forth the streets of Baghdad right before the eyes of overwhelmed and bewildered troops with no clear guidance as to what they should do about it. When asked about the looting problem, Rumsfeld just shrugged his shoulders. General Frank’s initial campaign plan called for about 300,000 troops and a long air campaign like Desert Storm. Rumsfeld sent him back to the drawing board dozens of times, and the campaign plan changed incrimentally, untill it morphed into what Rumsfeld wanted all along, and yet, allowed him the option of plausible denial, the freedom to state truly that General Franks wrote the plan, he was given everything he asked for in the plan, but it wasn’t really his plan. It was the best he could do under the circumstances. The civilian leadership at the Pentagon was too involved in operational planning, lets just face that fact and own up to it, our military leadership failed in that regard. The lessons of Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm were all forgotten. All of these wars ended with unsatisfactory outcomes, do you see the pattern? I do not call on Rumsfeld to resign, we can still accomplish the mission and I beleive we have come too far down the path with him at the helm to change leaders now. But, an examination of how the campaign plan came about should be conducted and we should capture all lessons learned as quickly and accurately as possible so that we don’t make the same mistakes with Iran.

  29. Great job, Sarge. No beating around any Bushes. No black/white, us/them, liberal/conservative blather. Just the skinny. It is possible to say that DoD and POTUS screwed up without being a traitor. It is possible to say that Rumsfeld, and to a point the ex-DoD Cheney, are not the best possible people to plan and execute a military action while actually supporting the troops in the field. Thanks Sarge.

  30. Good graphic, but it means nothing, except to us. Who else is going to be persuaded? No one. Same old story: The MSM puts out the lies, and the truth has to struggle to get out. By the time the truth is out there, it’s too late.
    Same old story.

  31. The graphic (and subsequent posts) illustrates a standard tactic used by Bushites to defend their indefensible war and attack its critics. Put out irrelevant data, attack your critics’ credibility but don’t actually answer the criticism. Half a dozen high-ranking military men who have devoted their lives to their country — and who have first-hand knowledge of the Iraq war planning and execution — are calling for Rumsfeld to resign, calling him incompetent. That’s unprecedented, newsworthy and deserving of attention and serious consideration.
    [The Puddle Pirate interjects: “Irrelevant data”? “First-hand knowledge”? I think not. These six men were not involved at Rumsfeld’s level in planning the invasion.]

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