June 05, 2004

Bush backing seen eroding in defense professions

Another US soldier has died in Iraq. For what? Many of
you now know that the answer to that painful question
is almost unspeakable. Because, increasingly, it is
hard to think of any reason for their death except for
the neo-con wet dream that captured the small-minded
imagination of the incredible shrinking _resident and
the political machinations of Rove, who thought he
could use a Mega-Grenada, but got a Mega-Mogadishu
instead. As LNS Foreign Correspondent says, "It is the
Consensus vs. the Cabal." The LNS has, for many
months, been chronicling the valiant struggle of our
military, intelligence, counterterrorism and foreign
policy professionals to ensure that A) the whole
sordid truth of the pre- and post-9/11 national
security failured of the Bush abomination (i.e., it
could have been prevented, and that the Bush
abomination devalued the threat from Al Qaeda, did not
heed the numerous warnings and indeed, undid good that
Clinton had done in the fight with Al Qaeda) is made
known to the US electorate, and that B) the whole
sordid truth about the incredible shrinking
_resident's unilateral, pre-emptive war in Iraq (i.e.,
that it was waged on false pretences, planned with
disregard and incompetence, incredibly damaging to our
position in the world, and worst of all, wholly
unnecessary) is made known to the US electorate.

Bryon Bender, Boston Globe: ''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.

Support Our Troops, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/06/05/bush_backing_seen_eroding_in_defense_professions?mode=PF

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.


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Posted by richard at June 5, 2004 01:30 PM