Several retired generals have spoken out recently to criticize Donald Rumsfeld and his leadership of the military. See, for example, Rumsfeld Rebuked by Retired Generals, More Retired Generals Call for Rumsfeld's Resignation. As E.J. Dionne Jr. noted in today's Washington Post, it is reasonable for such generals to demand Rumsfeld retire. They have seen the contempt this Administration has shown to those who question the "war of choice/war on the cheap" approach of this administration.
The problem, regretably, does not end with Rumsfeld. Cheney, an advocate of war against Iraq early on, was also the most vocal in claiming that the war would be short and sweet because we would be treated as liberating heroes. He was also the one most willing to continue repeating the discredited connections between Iraq and 9/11 and more generally between Iraq and al-Queda. Bush, of course, has stood behind both Cheney and Rumsfeld, and still insists that Rumsfeld has done a "heckuva" job. Admitting Rumsfeld's military failures in Iraq would be tantamount to admitting his own huge error in choosing to unseat Saddam without any plan in place for Saddam's replacement.
Meanwhile, conservatives news outlets continue to associate any criticism of Bush's war of choice in Iraq with yielding in our struggle against terrorism.
This isn't about one secretary of defense or six generals who don't like his policies. This is about winning the most dangerous and important war America has ever fought. By going public with their criticisms in the midst of the war, those generals are making victory more difficult. They are encouraging the enemy to fight on, believing we will ultimately surrender. There can be no good that will come from the comments of the former leaders of our volunteer soldiers, at least no good for what they once called "our side." Thomas, Retired Summer Soldiers, Salt Lake Tribune, Arp. 18, 2006.
Conflating the war in Iraq with the struggle against terrorism is dangerous. It led us into the ill-fated war in the first place, and it can deceive us about the effectiveness of our actions to counter terrorism now. Treating dissent from foolish warmongering policies as "encouraging the enemy" is equally foolhardy. Stubborn adherence to bad policy neither defeats terrorists nor resolves the insurgency in Iraq. When policies are failing, dissent and new thinking are needed. When military experts who have soldiered on under harmful policies (such as the current Administration's disdainful attitude towards the Geneva Conventions that has permitted prisoners to be tortured and its equally disdainful attitude towards American troops that has permitted our soldiers to go into the field with inadequate or non-existent armor) speak up, we should pay careful attention to what they say.