Bush backing seen eroding in defense professions

Discussion in 'Politics' started by nycflasher, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. nycflasher
    Offline

    nycflasher Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Messages:
    3,078
    Thanks Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    CT
    Ratings:
    +14
    Bush backing seen eroding in defense professions
    By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | June 5, 2004

    WASHINGTON -- An increasing number of current and former military officials, defense industry executives, and homeland security professionals have grown disenchanted with the direction of President Bush's national security policies, and some are rallying around John F. Kerry, according to interviews with military and industry officials.

    Republican presidential candidates historically have drawn strong support from Americans who make a career out of protecting the nation's security, so escalating dissent within that constituency offers an unusual opportunity for Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, according to political analysts. A new group called Americans for Strong National Security, whose membership of about 50 people includes defense executives, former senior Pentagon officials, and diplomats, is raising money for Kerry and providing policy advice to the Democrat's presidential campaign.


    ''I have been a Republican my entire adult life, " said A. Martin Erim, the group's chairman and president of Defense Holdings Inc. in McLean, Va., which consults on mergers and acquisitions in the defense industry. ''I voted for George W. Bush in the last election, but I have undergone a major transformation since 9/11 because of how the administration has handled things. "

    Republican defense industry executives such as Erim join the ranks of such former career civil servants as Richard A. Clarke, Bush's former counterterrorism czar; Rand Beers, another former National Security Council official now advising Kerry; Greg Thielmann, a former State Department intelligence chief; and others who recently have expressed opposition to the president to whom they once reported.

    Kerry, invoking the ''special bond " he shares as a Vietnam veteran, yesterday pledged to secure support for his campaign from 1 million veterans.

    In the past, most of the 26 million veterans in the United States have supported the Republican ticket. And a newly released CBS poll indicated that 54 percent of veterans surveyed said they would support Bush, compared with 40 percent for Kerry. But Kerry's campaign has organized volunteer coordinators in 50 states to recruit the support of current and former military personnel.

    In the last presidential campaign, Bush was able to exploit what was perceived as the military's distrust of the Clinton administration, promising the Pentagon that ''help is on the way. " Kerry has turned the tables, asserting that the Bush administration disregards the advice of professional military officers and has ended the careers of officials whose assessments contradicted the administration's position on Iraq.

    ''That is not the way to make the most solemn decisions of war and peace, " Kerry said in a speech in Seattle last week that kicked off an 11-day campaign swing focusing on national security issues. ''As president, I will listen to and respect the views of our experienced military leaders and never let ideology trump the truth. "

    Bush's handling of the Iraq war and the war on terrorism has been criticized publicly by some retired commanders, including two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Crowe and Army General John Shalikashvili; and two former heads of US Central Command, Anthony Zinni and Joseph Hoar, both Marine Corps generals.

    Bush aides have dismissed the criticisms from military brass no longer with the Pentagon, saying administration officials base their policies on input from ''commanders on the ground " in Iraq and elsewhere.

    When asked about Americans for Strong National Security, the new pro-Kerry group, Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said: ''The president has significant support and credibility among those who think he is making strong and clear choices in making the country safer. The Kerry campaign has a policy deficit on national security; they have to manufacture support networks and think tanks where they can generate ideas. "

    Bush retains the backing of many veterans and national security professionals. Two veterans who have been received by the public as heroes -- retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, who was shot down and held captive in Somalia in 1993, and retired Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady, who was shot down over Bosnia in 1995 -- are campaigning for Bush's reelection.

    When asked about the contentions that Bush's standing is ebbing among national security professionals, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, a Bush supporter, said there is some frustration but not widespread opposition. ''I don't see any of that, " he said. ''You have to be careful where these guys come from. I don't hear any good alternatives from them. "

    But disillusionment with Bush among traditional Republican allies in the military-industrial sector is mounting, according to other members of that community. And they said much of it stems from the problems in the Iraq war.

    Top generals, including Eric Shinseki -- who in early 2003 was chastised by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for saying the war would require at least 200,000 troops and who was later replaced as Army chief of staff -- fault Pentagon leadership for not heeding their advice to deploy more ground forces before the invasion or to prepare adequately for the aftermath. They say Rumsfeld and other top civilian leaders ignored or belittled them at the expense of the Army, which is straining under the weight of the Iraq conflict.

    ''The Army is fighting this war and needs more money, " said a longtime Army official who, like other Pentagon officials interviewed for this article, declined to be named, citing fear of reprisal. ''Morale in the Pentagon is pretty poor. They still think they can do more with less. It is one element of Bush's support that is eroding. "

    He said that he is not enamored with Kerry but that his reservations about the current administration are growing.

    It is people like him whom Kerry is seeking to enlist.

    ''There is no doubt in my mind that the problems the president and his policy have encountered in Iraq are giving Kerry an opening, " said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of The Rothenberg Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter published in Washington.

    The most public criticism of Bush has come from retired military officers who are able to speak more freely than their active-duty counterparts. Primary among them is Zinni, Bush's former envoy to Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. In a recent book, ''Battle Ready, " Zinni blasts Bush and his team for launching what he calls an unjustified war with insufficient forces. The book was written with novelist Tom Clancy, a longtime Bush supporter who has criticized the Iraq war because he says it had no rationale.

    Outspoken former officers such as Zinni, Hoar, Crowe, and Shalikashvili ''are simply reflecting a widespread view that can't be expressed by active-duty officers, " said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank in Arlington, Va. Thompson said he voted for Bush in 2000 but has not decided whom he will support in November.

    ''There is a huge reservoir of resentment about how Rumsfeld has treated the military and conducted the war in Iraq, " Thompson said.

    A former senior official with the Pentagon added: ''I am amazed at how much anger there is. It's popped up in the last month. "

    The frustration in military and intelligence circles springs from what some perceive as a ''competency gap, " the belief that top administration officials are not up to the job of protecting America in the changing world.

    Others in the national security community have expressed concern that not enough is being done to combat Islamic extremists and protect the United States from more terrorist attacks.

    ''For first time since 1814, Americans are defining their sense of security by defense of the homeland, " said Tom McMillen, a former Democratic congressman from Maryland who now runs a homeland security firm and is a leader of Americans for Strong National Security. ''In many respects, this is going to be the first presidential election of that new paradigm. The idea behind strong security is not Pentagon-centric anymore. It is policeman-centric and fireman-centric and emergency worker-centric. "

    Although a Democrat, McMillen represented a staunchly prodefense district that included the headquarters of the National Security Agency and the US Naval Academy.
    source
     
  2. freeandfun1
    Offline

    freeandfun1 VIP Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Messages:
    6,201
    Thanks Received:
    295
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +296
    Generals are, for the most part, politicians. Every ex-General that is against Bush today is somebody that was promoted by Clinton. Means nothing.
     
  3. Gop guy
    Offline

    Gop guy Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Messages:
    927
    Thanks Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    West Reading PA
    Ratings:
    +0
    DING DING DING!
     
  4. DKSuddeth
    Offline

    DKSuddeth Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    Messages:
    5,175
    Thanks Received:
    61
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    North Texas
    Ratings:
    +62
    do we have a valid list of that somewhere?
     
  5. nycflasher
    Offline

    nycflasher Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Messages:
    3,078
    Thanks Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    CT
    Ratings:
    +14
    Opinions are coming.:D
    This is one of my 14 hr days(between work and school) so I have to get by with a little cut and paste action with a bit of commentary mixed in.

    You know, sometimes it's just nice to put a nice piece of fresh meat out there and see if the piranhas(sp?) leave anything for me... :p:
     

Share This Page