Truthout: Binders Full of Generals
Systems (SPAWAR)General Paul X. Kelley, USMC
General Kelley went to work for one of the largest Washington lobbyist firms, Cassidy and Associates, helping defense companies get their piece of the Pentagon’s budget pie.
Perhaps some of the resentment against President Obama was that he was one of only a few president sin history who refused to get rolled by the generals and asserted civilian control after years of President George W. Bush going along with most of what his generals told him to do. Some of the top military showed open contempt for President Obama when the young president took office, similar to the hazing a young President Kennedy received.
As I wrote in a past column on military versus civilian control:
From accounts in [Rolling Stone reporter Michael] Hastings’ book and other news accounts, the top generals didn’t have much respect for Obama when he first came into office. What probably made that situation worse was that they were so used to President George W. Bush’s rubber stamp of what they wanted in the war, once the war started. (Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pushed back hard and severely before the Iraq war when some generals were concerned that we didn’t have enough troops and no exit strategy. But once we were in the war, Bush claimed that he was going to listen to the generals on the ground.)
In the end, the generals underestimated Obama’s civilian resolve, which was hardened like Kennedy’s when he saw that they were trying to undercut and go around his authority. Jonathan Alter’s book, “The Promise,” illustrates Obama’s first round of attempted hazing by the military brass. Hastings describes in his book the contempt that the top generals had when Obama said that he was going to honor the troop withdrawal agreement with Iraq and have troops leave at the end of 2011. (There is plenty of controversy surrounding the State Department’s 5,000-person army of hired mercenaries, but they are small compared to the troops that Obama pulled out.) The generals and some hawks in the administration leaked like crazy to the press that this was a “soft” date and insisted on the caveat that it depended on the old phrase of “the situation on the ground,” as the date neared.