President Bush keeps talking about how much he listens to the “generals on the ground” but it seems that may not be the whole truth. Something from Bush’s mouth not quite the whole truth? Does this surprise you? I hope not!
Anyway, when Bush vetoed the war spending bill last night, he mentioned the generals on the ground again, and how Congress was trying to “impose impossible conditions on our commanders in combat” by forcing them to “take fighting directions from politicians 6,000 miles away in
Washington, D.C.” He also said that “members of the House and the Senate passed a bill that substitutes the opinions of politicians for the judgment of our military commanders.”
Seems that at least one retired general has a different take on it. He thinks that Bush only listens to the generals who tell him what he already wants to hear.
Dear Mr. President,
Today, in your veto message regarding the bipartisan legislation just passed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, you asserted that you so decided because you listen to your commanders on the ground.
Respectfully, as your former commander on the ground, your administration did not listen to our best advice. In fact, a number of my fellow Generals were forced out of their jobs, because they did not tell you what you wanted to hear — most notably General Eric Shinseki, whose foresight regarding troop levels was advice you rejected, at our troops’ peril.
The legislation you vetoed today represented a course of action that is long overdue. This war can no longer be won by the military alone. We must bring to bear the entire array of national power – military, diplomatic and economic. The situation demands a surge in diplomacy, and pressure on the Iraqi government to fix its internal affairs. Further, the Army and Marine Corps are on the verge of breaking – or have been broken already – by the length and intensity of this war. This tempo is not sustainable – and you have failed to grow the ground forces to meet national security needs. We must begin the process of bringing troops home, and repairing and growing our military, if we are ever to have a combat-ready force for the long war on terror ahead of us.
The bill you rejected today sets benchmarks for success that the Iraqis would have to meet, and puts us on a course to redeploy our troops. It stresses the need for sending troops into battle only when they are rested, trained and equipped. In my view, and in the view of many others in the military that I know, that is the best course of action for our security.
As someone who served this nation for decades, I have the utmost respect for the office you hold. However, as a man of conscience, I could not sit idly by as you told the American people today that your veto was based on the recommendations of military men. Your administration ignored the advice of our military’s finest minds before, and I see no evidence that you are listening to them now.
I urge you to reconsider your position, and work with Congress to pass a bill that achieves the goals laid out above.
Major General Paul D. Eaton, USA, Retired