In part two of Mark Perry’s excellent article on the discord amongst military leaders, the men and women on the ground and the current administration offers a glimmer of hope that blind allegiance is now a thing of the past. More and more career soldiers and commanders are leaving the military “voting with their feet” rather than participate in this colossal calamity in Iraq.

Another Pentagon official remembers the opening to Gaood in 2004: “This should have been done then,” he says, “and I don’t understand why it wasn’t. Think of the blood, the enormous loss of life, the lost prestige, the failures.” Pentagon officers are also quick to point out that, while Petraeus has taken credit for the shift in strategy in Iraq, the “Awakening of the Tribes Movement” actually began long before he recommended an increase in American troops levels in the country.

In fact, the shift in strategy is more the result of necessity than choice – of decisions made by commanders on the ground who opposed the White House, National Security Council, CPA – and State Department view that all opposition to the Americans must be, ipso facto, evidence of terrorism. “We’ve not only started to define the real enemy,” a senior military office says, “but we’ve stopped shooting people. We’ve figured out that protecting Iraq is Iraq’s job, not ours.”

All of which raises the question of whether the United States should have invaded Iraq in the first place, an issue that is becoming more pertinent to military officers who view the American adventure in Iraq as a political and military failure.

Some of these officers have become outspoken in their condemnation of the Bush administration: which is a rarity, even among retired senior officers. “There’s a reason for that,” former four-star General Volney Warner says, “and the reason is that every former and currently serving military officer’s fear is that we in the military will be left holding the bag, that we will be blamed for this debacle. And that’s the last thing that we want to have happen. We didn’t make the decision to go into Iraq. We were ordered to do it. So the blame should go where it belongs.”

Sadly, while the commanders war with the administration it is statistically rural farm hands turned soldier who are dying on the ground. I am heartened that they are beginning to walk away from the quagmire and reserving ‘blind faith’ for the divine and withholding it from their commander in chief.