God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Friday, April 21, 2006

Revolting Generals

Some more thoughts on the I-Know-Better Generals who are taking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to task. Charles Krauthammer weighs in with a good analysis:
A third complaint: He didn't listen to me. So what? Lincoln didn't listen to McClellan, and fired him. Truman had enough of listening to MacArthur and fired him too. In our system of government, civilians fire generals, not the other way around.

Some of the complainers were on active duty when these decisions were made. If they felt so strongly about Rumsfeld's disregard of their advice, why didn't they resign at the time? Why did they wait to do so from the safety of retirement and with their pensions secured?

The Defense Department waves away the protesting generals as just a handful out of over 8,000 now serving or retired. That seems to me too dismissive. These generals are no doubt correct in asserting that they have spoken to and speak on behalf of some retired and, even more importantly, some active-duty military.

But that makes the generals' revolt all the more egregious. The civilian leadership of the Pentagon is decided on Election Day, not by the secret whispering of generals.
Krauthammer concludes by pointing out that this type of factionalism among the military is both a new and worrisome occurance:
We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions.
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That kind of dissident party within the military is alien to America. Some other retired generals have found it necessary to rise to the defense of the current administration. Will the rest of the generals, retired or serving, now have to declare themselves as to which camp they belong?

It is precisely this kind of division that our tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors was meant to prevent. Today it suits the anti-war left to applaud the rupture of that tradition. But it is a disturbing and very dangerous precedent that even the left will one day regret.


Shawmut 4/22/2006 03:43:00 PM  

People who have served their lives in the military have no delusions about what voiced dissent by superiors does to morale. When the mission is sensitive, subverting the hearts of the troops puts them in jeopardy.
As these general officers speak out they are reducing themselves to the same ranking as the more common media-whores like Cindy Sheehan and Michael the Movie Man.
Differences of opiinions among professionals are rarely amplified beyond the realm of colleagues.
These people seem to find the air of a congressional electoral season quite liberating. I see the motives as nothing more than venal, vain and mercenary.

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