Shinseki publicly clashed with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the planning of the war in Iraq over how many troops the United States would need to keep in Iraq for the postwar occupation of that country. As Army Chief of Staff, Shinseki testified to the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services on February 25, 2003 that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for postwar Iraq. This was an estimate far higher than the figure being proposed by Secretary Rumsfeld in his invasion plan, and it was rejected in strong language by both Rumsfeld and his Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who was another chief planner of the invasion and occupation. From then on, Shinseki’s influence on the Joint Chiefs of Staff reportedly waned. Critics of the Bush Administration alleged that Shinseki was forced into early retirement as Army Chief of Staff because of his comments on troop levels; however, his retirement was announced nearly a year before those comments.
When the insurgency took hold in postwar Iraq, Shinseki’s comments and their public rejection by the civilian leadership were often cited by those who felt the Bush administration deployed too few troops to Iraq. On November 15, 2006, in testimony before Congress, CENTCOM Commander General John Abizaid said that Shinseki had been correct that more troops were needed.
Of all the conservatives who opposed Donald Trump during his campaign for the presidency, his most vehement opponents were the men and women who had served in past Republican administrations, and particularly in the departments of state and of defense. One hundred and twenty-two Republican foreign policy hands signed a letter denouncing Trump as a menace to American values and world peace.
.. George W. Bush’s C.I.A. director, Michael Hayden, suggested that Trump was a useful idiot for Russian interests. Both neoconservatives and realists — Robert Kagan and Paul Wolfowitz, Brent Scowcroft and Richard Armitage — indicated that they would vote for Hillary Clinton.
.. If they fear how Trump might govern, can they in good conscience work for him?
The answer, for now, is that they can and should — and indeed, precisely because they fear how Trump might govern, there is a moral responsibility to serve.
.. For the next four years, the most important check on what we’ve seen of Trump’s worst impulses — his hair-trigger temper, his rampant insecurity, his personal cruelty — won’t come from Congress or the courts or the opposition party. It will come from the people charged with executing the basic responsibilities of government within his administration.
.. So to the extent that Trump’s approach to governance threatens world peace, that threat can be mitigated by appointees with experience and knowledge, and magnified if their posts are filled by hacks and sycophants instead.
.. But here the Republican Senate has a crucially important role to play. Trump cannot appoint cabinet officials without the approval of many senators who opposed or doubted him throughout the campaign — from Mike Lee and Jeff Flake to John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
.. If a Trump presidency lurches into naked authoritarianism — abusing executive authority in unprecedented ways, issuing immoral or illegal orders to the military — then there will be an obligation not to serve, but to resign.
And the gray area between these two obligations will create a lot of territory in which Trump appointees could succumb to moral corruption, justifying their toleration for enormities on the grounds that “the greater good requires me to stay.”