Home/Daniel Larison/When You Fail, Blame The Generals

When You Fail, Blame The Generals

Card put it on the generals in the Pentagon and Iraq. If they had come forward and said to the president, “It’s not worth it,” or, “The mission can’t be accomplished,” Card was certain, the president would have said “I’m not going to ask another kid to sacrifice for it.” ~Bob Woodward, The Washington Post

In other words, according to the former chief of staff, it is up to the generals to tell the President what the strategy ought to be and determine whether it is or is not worthwhile.  But consider this year’s response to the retired generals who said that the strategy either wasn’t working or that the war should never have been fought in the first place–they were widely denounced by GOP flacks and their very participation in the debate was viewed as a possible threat to civilian control of the military.  When civilian critics of the war say that the strategy isn’t working or that the mission cannot be accomplished, we are accused of buying into enemy propaganda and helping the cause of terrorists.  No wonder the generals who haven’t retired don’t dare go to Mr. Bush to say that the war is pointless!  No, I’m sorry, if Mr. Bush is so lacking in perspicacity and understanding that he cannot see for himself that the strategy isn’t working, it does not become solely the responsibility of his subordinates to tell him this.  He does not get a free pass on this one.  The pernicious influence of Kissinger’s “stick it out” mentality is there for all to see, and it makes you think that Mr. Bush would “stick it out” even if the generals told him that it would be pointless to do so.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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