Have you ever wondered why the military brass attack Donald Rumsfeld so ferociously, but have so little bad to say about George W. Bush and the Republican Congress, the people who, after all, actually run the show?
Freud would have understood.
The leaders of our military face a difficult conundrum: The personal politics of the officer corps is overwhelmingly pro-Republican, but as smart people they can’t help but notice that the Republican Party is royally screwing the nation’s armed forces.
As the blog Hughes for America notes (in providing a long series of examples), “Listing every example of Republicans screwing the troops would fill a weighty volume, the type of volume the president would laughingly claim to have read this summer, just after those ‘three Shakespeares.’”
So what’s an avidly pro-Republican military leader who also happens to be as mad as hell about what the Republicans are doing to his army, navy and/or air force supposed to do?
The answer, I’m going to suggest, is found in a psychological concept known as transference: It’s defined as follows: “In psychoanalysis, the process by which emotions associated with one person, such as a parent, unconsciously shift to another, especially to the analyst.”
What we’re seeing in the current anti-Rumsfeld orgy is a massive transference of the military leadership’s rage over GOP mismanagement and neglect of the armed services to the single person of Rumsfeld. It isn’t Bush and the Republican Congress who are screwing them, they tell themselves, it’s Rumsfeld. I mean, what’s their other choice — to stop being Republicans and join up with those hippie-loving Democrats?
So month by month, the military’s attacks on Rumsfeld, generally delivered by retired generals (and certainly every single barb directed against him is well deserved, but again, let’s remember who’s in charge) grow more and more shrill.
(AP) x-military officers criticize Rumsfeld
Retired military officers on Monday bluntly accused Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of bungling the war in Iraq, saying U.S. troops were sent to fight without the best equipment and that critical facts were hidden from the public.
“I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq,” retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste told a forum conducted by Senate Democrats.
A second military leader, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, assessed Rumsfeld as “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically.”
“Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision-making,” Eaton added at the forum, held six weeks before the Nov. 7 midterm elections, in which the war is a central issue.
Gen. Batiste went further than most in mentioning “others in the administration,” but Rumsfeld remains the central focus of the military’s ire, while Bush remains comparatively untouched.
Will this anger among the armed forces ever turn more generally against the GOP? Among the upper echelons of the officer corps, I personally doubt it. Someone like Wesley Clark comes along only once in a blue moon anymore, with fealty to the Republican Party now almost as deeply ingrained at the top of our armed services as honor, duty and country.
That this is an unhealthy state of affairs for a democracy goes without saying. But it’s a reality that’s going to be extremely hard to change.
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