Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 10, 2006


Filed under: antiwar,parliamentary cretinism — louisproyect @ 8:20 pm

General Paul Eaton is one of those retired officers who spoke out publicly against Rumsfeld. Here is what the Nation Magazine said:

The fact that so many retired generals are speaking out against the war and against Rumsfeld, and are doing so at such forums as New York’s prestigious Council on Foreign Relations, reflects the depth and intensity of the military’s dissent. Traditional discipline and career-protecting reticence prompt many disillusioned field-grade officers (majors and above) to keep silent. These are “the Carlisle elite,” who attend the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and from whose ranks are selected the generals and top leaders of tomorrow.

The military’s senior active-duty leadership will not openly revolt. “We’re not the French generals in Algeria,” says Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. “But we damned well know that the Iraq War we’ve won militarily is being lost politically.” The well-read retired Marine Lieut. Gen. Gregory Newbold wrote in a Time magazine essay: “I retired from the military four months before the March 2003 invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11’s tragedy to hijack our security policy.” Newbold calls the Iraq War “unnecessary” and says the civilians who launched the war acted with “a casualness and swagger” that are “the special province” of those who have never smelled death on a battlefield.

With politics shifting to the center and decisive weight being given to the bipartisan approach put forward by a committee headed by Republican James Baker and Democrat Lee Hamilton, one might expect a new plan for Iraq that looks similar to the one proposed on the NY Times op-ed page today by Eaton:

First, on Iraq, the Democratic leadership needs to push the administration to move immediately on whatever recommendations come from the Iraq Study Group led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. The decision to hold the commission’s report until after the election was political idiocy ­ every day we wait risks the lives of our soldiers and our Iraqi allies.

At the same time, we need a Manhattan Project-level effort to build the Iraqi security forces. A good blueprint can be found in an article in the July-August Military Review by Lt. Col. Douglas Ollivant, a former operations officer with the Army’s Fifth Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, and Lt. Eric D. Chewning. The plan is to create new multifaceted battalions ­ blending infantry, armor, engineers and other specialists ­ that would live and work beside Iraqi security forces and civilians. Some of our troops, working largely at the platoon level, have had great success along these lines; but as the authors note, such small units “lack the robust staff and sufficient mass to fully exploit local relationships.” It’s time to replicate that success on a larger scale.

Somehow I am not reassured by the proposal for a Manhattan Project-level effort to build the Iraqi security forces but maybe that’s because I am an unrepentant Trotskyite dinosaur.

Meanwhile, Chris Matthews had on Mary McCaskill, the new Democratic Senator from Missouri, on Hardball 2 nights ago. When he asked her if she would vote for John Bolton being the UN representative, she answered:

Yeah, probably. You know, I haven‘t had a chance it review all of Mr. Bolton‘s record. But, you know, I am a believer that the president has certain picks that he is entitled to. As long as I‘m convinced that they are serious about beginning work on diplomacy.

While Matthews is a horse’s ass who had no problem backing Bush when the war first started, I did enjoy his response to McCaskill:

What do you think of the neoconservatives, the people who come into the power and believe it is the job of the United States government, not to protect this country but their job, their mission, their messianic dream is to go around the world, looking for governments they do not like and trying to democratize them by force and killing and blood and treasure, go into those countries, overturn the leadership an try to turn them into us. Do you think that‘s the kind of person you want representing us to the world?

After the McCaskill interview was over, he had on a panel of liberal commentators discussing various things, including Lisa Caputo who was Hillary Clinton’s press secretary. Matthews posed this question: “Are we going to get out of Iraq at some point in the next couple of years with a minimum of casualties or are we just going to stick around another six months or a year to make it look good? Taking more casualties accomplishing nothing we couldn‘t accomplish if we left tomorrow morning.”

Caputo answered as follows:

I don‘t think it‘s a question, Chris, of slow or quick, I think it‘s a question of being pragmatic and being methodical about it. Right now our allies are feeling very exposed due to a weakened White House. Bush to his credit has moved quickly by nominating Gates, the number two to Scowcroft, let‘s not forget this, under Bush One. They are bringing a pragmatic approach back in with a signal to the Hill that they are going to be more middle of the road. So I don‘t think it‘s fast versus slow. Chris. I think it‘s a methodical, logical, thoughtful approach to get out.

Of course, this is not what people bargained for when they voted Democrat. They are sick and tired of this war and it is absolutely imperative for the left in this country to light a fire under Congress and the White House to get out NOW.


  1. It is a wonder that the housing industry has not yet collapsed for lack of nails what with this Proyect going around smashing so many so soundly on the head. The Great Repudiation is, of course, better than the other. But the conquering horde is well-seeded with closet neo-cons, gun nuts, anti-choicers, corporatists and various permutations of Clintonite pathology. Impossible to ignore ongoing anxious twitches. Jeffrey Marlin.

    Comment by J. Marlin — November 10, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  2. I see that “revolutionary defeatism” has survived, even though its contemporaries, corsets, starched collars, and workingman’s caps, are long gone.

    Comment by Grumpy Old Man — November 11, 2006 @ 12:19 am

  3. The Democrats have always been committed to “victory” in Iraq. The coming report on Iraq, will lead to bipartisan support for the war. That wasn’t what people voted for.

    Expect for 2008, a populist lesser evil Democrat to usurp whatever antiwar movement is around.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 11, 2006 @ 6:02 am

  4. It is really bizarre, this near worship by pols of both parties of the Baker-Hamilton ISG. The problem is that there is nothing they can propose that Bush will like, and they will not propose withdrawal. This is one of the first times ever that people are hoping a commission will come up with an answer that nobody can see ahead of time.

    Comment by Barkley Rosser — November 14, 2006 @ 6:50 pm

  5. […] On November 10th, I wrote about retired General Eaton’s call for “a Manhattan Project-level effort to build the Iraqi security forces”, a sentiment in clear distinction to an article in the Nation Magazine that characterized him as “antiwar”. That same article grouped him with General John Batiste, who is even more bellicose based on this interview on Chris Matthews’s MSNBC Hardball show last night: […]

    Pingback by Another “antiwar” General calls for escalation « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — November 25, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

  6. I do not wonder if this General Eaton is a lying sack of shit. I suspect that he is a lying sack of shit. I figured out a long time ago that press reports of Generals being opposed to government military and foriegn policy was just a bunch of disinformation to confuse the public about who was really running the country and who the guilty parties really were. Jabada Jabada Jabada everything that they say is just talk. A person can say what ever the hell they want when they know that what they say will not make a damned bit of difference. The generals could have done far far more a long long time ago to prevent the USA from going were it has gone. Therefore when it comes to Generals the only reasonable policy towards them has to be that they are presumed guitly unless they can prove thier innocence. That means, unless they can prove their innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, at a minimum reduction to the rank of E1, dishonorable discharge, loss of all pensions and benifits, a huge fine so that that their children can not benifit from their years of criminal behavior, their wives can keep VA medical benifits, finally they can learn to actually serve mankind with a very long prison sentence at the bottom of a Chinese coal mine, or an Iranian uranium mine, or a Russian Diamond mine, depending on which country would be willing to pay more for their presence in their country.
    The same thing actually goes for the Supreme Court as well. They could have easily declared our wars against Iraq and Libya as unconstitutional by encouraging someone to start a law suit that would end up before them. Any Nation deserves Generals that our willing to protect the people of that nation yet the USA ends up with Generals that not only did not protect us they sentenced us to death as a result of their behavior. They my dear aliens is why you find this trove of 21st century history under 6 feet of earth or 6 ft or more of water.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — March 22, 2017 @ 11:20 pm

  7. To my virtual alien friends, if you managed to get here from a distant part of our universe you will have certianly learned by the time that you read this that our entire universe is a simulation. I am sure that you know that our universe is simulated by real aliens in another universe seperate from ours. What you may not know is that it is at this point in history when the world stands at a crossroads that humans (a few anyways) started figuring this out. Of course as I am sure you understand, we do seem real to ourselves. Furthermore, we do not know why we are simulated. Is it just for entertainment? I hope not. It is certainly plausible that it is done for educational or research purposes. I can live with that. That would imply that our sufferning here will help make the lives of others in a different place better. What it does not imply though is that humanity will succeed in overcomming our current problems. (Just because we have gotten a little boost here or there.) A heck of a lot is learned from crash test dummies.

    Comment by Curt Kastens — March 23, 2017 @ 10:22 am

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