Even in this age when retired officers can begin a second career as a cable-news commentator, there is a certain well-founded unease when military leaders openly criticize their civilian superiors. It is a rare event and it speaks volumes about the seriousness of the breakdown in the administration's handling of Iraq.
If this were one or two generals, it may be easy to dismiss as merely a blip; but six, with the possibility of more, is an earthquake.
A current member of the military told me last week that comments by Senators such as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to the effect that we are losing the war offers aid to the enemy by giving enemy propagandists ammunition. That's a not-so-subtle way of calling someone a traitor. Yet, by that logic, so are these generals.
It's one thing to criticize politicians for trying to score cheap political points, but if you consider it in light of the generals' comments, perhaps they are putting the best interests of the country first. I doubt the generals are interested in putting their men or their respected services at risk.
I think they can clearly articulate that there is a distinction between saying the U.S. has lost the war and saying the administration can lose the war.
Public opinion is essential to the success of any war. However, unlike the administration expected, military deaths are not the primary source of declining support, it is their failed policies. The administration spent so much time trying to insulate the public through glowing pronouncements of certain victory, restricting deployment to politically "acceptable" numbers and focusing only on intelligence that agreed with their view of the world, that they seem to have convinced themselves as much as the public that they were in for a walk in the park.
If they had been honest from the start, we would likely be in a very different situation.