Generals over the White House: 2: THE POLITICAL GENERALS


According to the conventional wisdom of that element of the liberal bourgeoisie which is steadily retreating before the rightist trend in the capitalist establishment it takes a real hardliner, an all-out rightist, to settle a grave international or domestic crisis on a progressive basis.

They give the example of General de Gaulle and cite his settlement of the Algerian independence struggle. They also invoke Nixon's opening up of relations with the Peoples Republic of China his signing of the first SALT treaty and the various agreements with the USSR during the Nixon administration which are cited as the beginning of detente.

It was reckoned by the bourgeois liberals in retreat that in a similar way Carter, a former nuclear engineer who also served in the Navy for seven years and has intimate connections with the military and conservative Southerners, would be able to put across the SALT II treaty and get it ratified by the Senate.


As of today, President Carter has not only withdrawn the treaty from consideration by the Senate, but announced at his last press conference that under some conditions (which he didn't name he would even unilaterally without any consideration by the Senate renounce the treaty which he had signed. This shocked even his close aides in the White House. It constituted a 180-degree turnaround from the days when he at least verbally championed the treaty and said that "there will not be a more important piece of legislation before the Senate in my lifetime and in this century." It is hardly possible to conceive of a more provocative move against the USSR than the unilateral renunciation of the treaty The implications were it to happen which is doubtful), would almost certainly entail parallel counter-measures by the USSR.

Aside from the downright cynicism and banality of the liberal element of the capitalist establishment and the dubious validity of their strategy of embracing a right-winger to prosecute a progressive cause, the examples given of de Gaulle and Nixon, when viewed in the totality of their tenure in office, are false. And that of Carter is completely bankrupt.

De Gaulle's role in the settlement of the Algerian crisis is much overrated and that of the Algerian revolutionary struggle underestimated So is the solidarity of the French working class with the Algerian people.

Completely forgotten, of course, is de Gaulle's strikebreaking threat to crush the historic 1968 general strike using elements of the military known for their fascist inclinations.

Of course the retreating liberals who saw Nixon as a proponent of peace with the USSR and China through negotiation, not confrontation," completely overlooked his role in Watergate in making the alluring analogy with de Gaulle.


It's not pressure from below, from the people, which accounts for Carter's sharp turn to the right. It's not the Afghanistan events, which are being used as a pretext and a cover for a new extremely chauvinist and militarist approach by the Carter administration. It's not any new-found weaknesses, loopholes, or disadvantages of the SALT treaty.

The pressure comes mostly from the military and it becomes more severe and unrelenting with each passing day.

In last week's article we called attention to the 170 admirals and generals who on January 21 1979 in a letter to the President published as an advertisement in leading capitalist dailies in the U.S., virtually presented him with an ultimatum. They demanded an abandonment of SALT and once again called for U.S. military superiority over the USSR and the renouncing of any concept of detente. This, however, only seems to be the tip of the iceberg.

The American Security Council, one of the more prominent fronts for the military, claims that 2,530 retired generals and admirals have allegiance to its far-right militarist program, which reads about the same as that of the 170 generals and admirals. Even if this is an exaggeration, which we believe it to be, the 29 co-chairmen who have lent their names to this front are certainly significant retired military leaders and constitute an ever-growing influence in all aspects of the political struggle in the United States.


Some of the co-chairmen of what the American Security Council calls the Coalition for Peace Through Strength are: William Middendorf, former Secretary of the Navy; Thomas Reed, former Secretary of the Air Force; Adm. Thomas Moorer, U.S. Navy, ret., former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, USA, ret., former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Daniel 0 Graham USA ret former director Defense Intelligence Agency Maj. Gen. George Keegan, USAF, ret, former chief of U.S. Air Force Intelligence; Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub USA ret former chief of staff United Nations Command south Korea Gen. Richard E. Stillwell USA, ret.

Most conspicuous in this list is General Keegan, who was the driving force behind the mobilization of the retired military camarilla.

Conspicuously absent from this list of co-chairmen is former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, who while allying himself with this group in general steers in the direction of an independent faction as does General Westmoreland, former U.S. commander in Viet Nam.

It must be understood that the retired generals and admirals most frequently speak for the generals and admirals in the service, or at least a faction of them. A great many of the generals and admirals have direct links to the military-industrial complex to the arms manufacturers as well as to scientific and technical institutes of the universities. Many in retirement draw down fat salaries as consultants to the principal defense contractors and find legal subterfuges to conceal their "conflict of interest" as cronies of the huge conglomerates, the multi-national corporations which produce a multitude of horrendous military weapons systems.

Following the example of General Douglas MacArthur, who in retirement became chairman of Remington-Rand, General Alexander Haig and practically all his predecessors in similar offices have done the same. Haig is now working for United Technologies-a defense contractor.


In the continuing open and covert struggle between the military and civilian arms of the government the capitalist politicians often try to play the game of stealing the thunder from the other side," the way candidates in the bourgeois parties try to appropriate each other's program in order to improve their position with the electorate. The late Senators Humphrey, Morse, and others, in their effort to beat off the rightist attacks during the Joseph McCarthy period often took over the program of the right both from the point of view of self-protection and as a tactic of disarming the right, especially the extremists in the McCarthy camp.

In the same way the Carter administration and its predecessor have continually given way to the military's demands as a way of warding off their encroachments on the administrative and political processes of the capitalist apparatus.

But this, too, is a defeatist approach. It is a fallacy to believe that the militarists are merely concerned with program alone. On the contrary, their inclination grows stronger all the time to also lay hands on the capitalist apparatus as a whole, always awaiting the proper moment.


The military's appetite for administering the entire state apparatus is not a psychological aberration and does not depend on the existence of this or that strong individual leader in the military or on the willfulness of any one of the generals to become the man on horseback. The strong orientation toward assuming of civil functions by the military grows out of the evolution of the fusion of the military with the industrial and banking complex, an evolution which capitalist politicians are not equipped to resist.

The existence of acute social crises, internecine struggles in the bourgeois establishment, and growing discontent among the masses feeds the military's itch to assume more and more of the civil functions of the capitalist government. This is especially true at a time of tremendous revolutionary ferment throughout the world among the oppresses peoples and the possibility that, with tremendous economic and social hardships for the mass of people at home, they will resist bearing the burden of the ruling class's assault on their living standards.


While many aspects of the Watergate episode have been subjected to investigation and analysis by the bourgeois press and free-lance journalists, the special role played by the military during the crisis has received little if any attention.

When in early May of 1973 Nixon was forced to release Haldeman and Ehrlichman, he appointed Gen. Alexander Haig, Jr., as the White House Chief of Staff to take Haldeman's place. The significance of this appointment vis-à-vis the struggle between the military and civilian roles of the government was completely lost and not even alluded to in the capitalist press. For the military, it was something in the nature of a precedent-breaking appointment and a leap forward into the operations of the civilian government, since it meant taking over Haldeman's job as domestic adviser in addition to running other affairs of the White House. It put the military center-stage in the White House, handling all the levers of real power and in fact acting as a substitute for the President.


In making the announcement of Haig's appointment, Nixon was careful to use the term "interim," fearful that the press might attack him for putting the military in charge. No such attach ever came. In fact, because of the factional division in the ruling class, neither side was ready in the slightest degree to attack the military aspect of this appointment.

It also offered an opportunity to the military to assume its classical role seen elsewhere in the capitalist world of intervening as arbitrator or moderator at a time when the ruling class is divided by sharp internecine struggles or when a social crisis between antagonistic classes assumes threatening proportions.

It is to be remembered that Nixon had earlier appointed Haig as Army Vice-Chief of Staff, skipping over 240 other generals. This unusual appointment could only have been arrived at not as an arbitrary choice by Nixon personally, but as a consensus by the military chiefs.


Haig's rapid rise in the military hierarchy wasn't based on any military achievements but on the fact that he was recognized to be a political general one who aligned himself with the hard-line faction of the ruling class in the prosecution of the Viet Nam war and with the geopolitical militarist conceptions shared by then-Secretary of Defense and warhawk James Schlesinger and Rockefeller-protege Secretary of State Kissinger Nixon was relying on Haig to help him out of the crisis and shift the political pendulum in his direction.

But it is noteworthy that when Nixon, reacting to the refusal of Archibald Cox to obey his orders, dismissed him as special Watergate prosecutor abolished his office accepted the resignation of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and discharged Deputy Attorney General William D Ruckelshaus, Haig aside from an alleged threatening remark to Ruckelshaus took a hands-off position This was a real blow to Nixon. Practically the entire capitalist press was characterizing the crisis as leading to impeachment because of the grave constitutional confrontation that was developing between Nixon and the court, which had ordered Nixon to give up the Watergate tapes. With both the legislative and judicial branches solidly arrayed against him, the only thing that could possibly have saved Nixon at that time was a threat by the military through General Haig. This never materialized. The military played it cool between the warring factions with a view to strengthening its own independent position. After all, they had someone in the White House running things their way.


Apologists for the civilian champions of the capitalist government cite that the appointment of Haig was not without precedent in recent American history and point out that Eisenhower had appointed Major General Wilton B. Persons, as special assistant to replace Sherman Adams, who had been forced to resign for accepting a bribe from the Boston textile financier Goldfine.

But the analogy is not at all applicable. Persons was merely an administrative aide to a general who was President, while Haig took over domestic political functions and practically ran the government during a major political crisis as a substitute for the President. Of all the investigations that have taken place since Watergate, none has said anything about Haig and Haig himself has kept discreetly quiet to this very day. The true role of the military in the crisis has yet to be investigated.


As we noted earlier, when President Carter took over he was in the best possible position to push back the military and the inroads it had made into the fabric of the contemporary political structure of the U.S. The Ford administration had itself realized that as a result of the defeat of the U.S. at the hands of the Vietnamese revolutionary struggle as well as the unemployment and growing inflation in the country it would be in a very poor position to face a Democratic challenger in the forthcoming national elections. Nor would it help to be saddled with General Haig in the White House and Schlesinger as secretary of defense especially if Pentagon defense expenditures were raised prematurely.

It did not serve the military's purposes to retain Haig in the White House under conditions where the political pendulum was swinging against the Ford administration as heir to the discredited Nixon presidency. The military carefully withdrew Haig and had him shunted off as commander-in-chief of NATO, getting him out of the limelight when conditions militated against the administration. This also suited Ford.


The equally significant change made during the Ford administration was to get rid of Schlesinger Unemployment and cutbacks, plus inflation which had only slightly receded, had led to economic unrest by large masses of workers. Schlesinger continued to press for increased defense appropriations precisely at a time when the Ford administration sought less emphasis with a view toward the 1976 election. Both Schlesinger and Haig were known for their extreme views with respect to the military, were generally opposed to SALT and detente, and were for military superiority over the USSR.

When Carter took over, he had the option of bringing in an entirely new slate to the government, one more removed from the military. As we indicated earlier, however, one of the first real tests of his attitude and relationship to the encroachment of the military came with his appointment of Admiral Turner to the CIA.

Two others were equally significant They were his appointment of Schlesinger as secretary of energy and his retaining of Haig in the NATO post.


When Schlesinger was forced to resign as secretary of defense from the Ford administration he was already greatly discredited as a super-hawk A revealing editorial in the November 7, 1975 New York Times characterized the rivalry between Kissinger 1975 New York Times characterized the rivalry between Kissinger and Schlesinger in the following alarming admission. Mr. Schlesinger, said the Times, "believed that this country needed the option of actually fighting a limited nuclear war" (emphasis S.M.). Kissinger, on the other hand, the Times said, harbored growing doubts that limited war could be a viable option.

One would think that this startling revelation, unchallenged by Schlesinger, would be enough for Carter to keep him at arm's length. On the contrary, Schlesinger was awarded with a cabinet post by Carter which was partly a cover for his military intrigues with the Pentagon.

He was only relieved of his post as energy secretary because the oil monopolies didn't take him into their confidence and let him in on their plans for the phony gas crisis of 1978. This effectively ended his official participation in the top echelons of the capitalist government and forced him to retreat into the shadows, where he unquestionably is operating on behalf of the unbridled militarists.

Nor did Carter try to change the status of the Republican-appointed NATO commander General Haig. Haig was constantly leaking his opinions on SALT the neutron bomb and other issues as well as bulldozing his NATO allies and even publicly irritating them by scolding them for not rapidly enough aligning their positions with his.

Thus with Admiral Turner in the CIA, General Haig in NATO, Schlesinger acting as decoy for the Pentagon under cover of secretary of energy, and Brzezinski as national security advisor fully staffed with Pentagon aides Carter as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party had from an ideological, military point of view in effect appointed four rightwing Republicans to key posts in the Democratic administration The personalities may change but the military's role in expanding and strengthening their increasingly enormous role in the capitalist state as a whole goes on unabated.

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