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Alexander's Column

General discontent

Mark Alexander · Apr. 21, 2006

“[He] possessed the gift of silence.” –President John Adams on George Washington’s exercise of discretion as a retired general and president

Currently, there are about 4,700 living members of the retired General Officer corps, most of whom left active duty between Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Last week, .13 (that’s point one three) percent (or 13 ten-thousandths) of them decided to help write the Democrats’ ‘06 midterm-election playbook. Six retired officers (seven if we’re to include former Demo presidential hopeful Wesley Clark) issued public indictments of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s (read: the Bush administration’s) conduct of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It is worth noting, because the Leftmedia hasn’t, that the six complainants are all alumni of Clinton’s Pentagon Cabal. Nor has the Leftmedia mentioned the support Secretary Rumsfeld has received from more consequential retired generals such as former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers or former OEF and OIF commander Tommy Franks.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with criticism of an American president and his administration; as readers of this column well know The Patriot has written extensively about President Bush’s domestic policy failures. But the disingenuous, politically-motivated accusations by Democrat Party leaders like Kennedy, Reid, Durbin, Kerry, Pelosi and their ilk are something else entirely. As we have noted before, their use of the gravely serious matter of the Iraq War for partisan political gain is nothing short of – and we don’t toss this term out lightly – treason.

Likewise, there is nothing wrong with former military officers declaring their intent to run for public office or their support for a political party. At least retired Marine colonel, Rep. John Murtha, had the integrity to do that. But the six officers in question have made no such declaration – insisting that their attack on the Bush administration is non-partisan. In this respect, they are either duplicitous or dupes – and one should fairly conclude that they are not the latter.

When retired general officers are recruited by Demo Party leaders to join in a chorus of dissension in time of war, the consequences are the same: Deadly. Their actions embolden our enemy and endanger our troops on the ground.

Military officers recognize that unity of command is cardinal to the maintenance of effective war-fighting capability. As General George Patton said, “I am a soldier. I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.” However, that doesn’t mean our military leaders need always agree on strategy and tactics. Genuine disagreement and debate are essential at all levels and in proper forums if we are to one day achieve victory in the Long War against Jihadi terror. Of such debate, Dwight Eisenhower noted, “The world moves, and ideas that were good once are not always good.” Or, in Patton’s parlance, “If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.”

Indeed, it is clear that Secretary Rumsfeld has made mistakes – given the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. “There are things that in retrospect I wish had gone differently,” he concedes, “but no war plan remains intact after first contact with the enemy. Our combatant commanders fashioned a darn good war plan and we had plenty of plans for the post major combat operations. As things evolved, those plans were revised.”

It is not the civilian defense secretary’s job to win uniform popularity among his subordinate generals. In fact, there is something to be said for the value of tension between the civilian constitutional officer overseeing national defense and military commanders. But when such disagreements depart appropriate military forums and become political fodder, especially in time of war, the consequences for military unity and constitutional authority are threatened.

Perhaps Five Star General of the Army, Omar Bradley, said it best: “I am convinced that the best service a retired general can perform is to turn in his tongue along with his suit, and to mothball his opinions.”

Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman wisely noted recently: “It’s time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge [he is our] commander-in-chief. We undermine the President’s credibility at our nation’s peril.”

Indeed, that is precisely what Democrat leaders, and now a thimble-full of former military leaders, have done. And of the 877 generals and admirals still on active duty, some additional dissenters have already been recruited to join the political chorus as soon as they retire. Regrettably, in doing so, they also undermine our national will to stay the course until Iraq is sufficiently stable to begin an orderly withdrawal.

The merit and substance of dissenters’ complaints notwithstanding, this small cadre of officers has become part of a macro-Demo strategy to undermine one of the foundational pillars of the Republican Party – national security. As was the case with the recent Dubai Ports debacle and the current immigration reform debate, the Democrats are faking right on national security issues.

Of course, the Demos’ reckless political strategy is not about Iraq or national security. It is about undermining support for President Bush and Republicans in advance of midterm elections, in an all out effort to regain control of the House and, particularly, the Senate.

The Democrats’ ultimate objective is to deny President Bush another Supreme Court appointment, for if the Democrats know one thing, it is this: The real locus of central government power resides with judicial activists on the federal bench.

President Bush’s High Court nominees are constitutional constructionists, as intended by our Founders – those who issue rulings based on the letter of constitutional law rather than the particular desires of their constituent agenda. The Democrats, however, have exiled our nation’s Constitution and replaced it with the so-called “living constitution” interpreted by their judiciary minions, which assures them of national power regardless of which party controls the presidency or Congress, or gubernatorial and statehouses across the nation.

Democrats know that they can depend on their High Court appointees to legislate their bidding from the bench by way of judicial diktat. And Democrat dominion over the entire nation is therefore dependent on what Thomas Jefferson called, the “Despotic Branch”.

Amid all the news about general officer dissent, you may have missed the news that Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the Supreme Court’s two most liberal jurists, celebrated his 86th birthday Thursday. As The Patriot has noted previously, President Bush may have the opportunity to send the Senate his third nominee to the Court, should Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsburg retire.

One more constructionist appointment and constitutional federalism will be restored. That prospect would end the Democrats’ judicial reign over the nation for at least a generation, and the legal landscape would change dramatically.

If, however, Democrats can convince Americans that they would do a better job with national security than Republicans, and consequently retake control of the Senate this fall, no constructionist nominee can hope to be seated.

You recall that in 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated an exceptional jurist for the Supreme Court – Robert Bork. Unfortunately, a year earlier, Republicans lost the Senate in midterm elections. Consequently, Ted Kennedy and Co. were able to “bork” this superb jurist’s nomination, and we instead had to settle for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

This summer, one thing is certain: We can expect an increasingly rancorous – and deceptive – run-up to the midterm elections, as Democrats will stop at nothing to prevent the return of constitutional order to the High Court. Expect to hear from more military dissenters. Don Rumsfeld was asked this week, “We keep hearing too many troops, not enough troops; pull them out, keep them in there. Is there anything that this administration can do to please the critics?” He replied, “Not in an election year.”

Defend Liberty!