It isn’t mentioned often, but generals speaking out against a war policy is very rare in American history. So when it happens, as it has a lot recently, that means that something is horribly askew. After all, why else would these men risk their careers and reputations?
What might be called The Revolt of the Generals has rarely happened in the nation’s history.
In op-ed pieces, interviews and TV ads, more than 20 retired U.S. generals have broken ranks with the culture of salute and keep it in the family. Instead, they are criticizing the commander in chief and other top civilian leaders who led the nation into what the generals believe is a misbegotten and tragic war.
The active-duty generals followed procedure, sending reports up the chain of command. The retired generals beseeched old friends in powerful positions to use their influence to bring about a change.
When their warnings were ignored, some came to believe it was their patriotic duty to speak out, even if it meant terminating their careers.
It was a decision none of the men approached cavalierly. Most were political conservatives who had voted for George W. Bush and initially favored his appointment of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary.
But they felt betrayed by Bush and his advisers.
“The ethos is: Give your advice to those in a position to make changes, not the media,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. “But this administration is immune to good advice.”