Friday, April 21, 2006

Military Rule?

Krauthammer on the danger of divisions in military public opinion:

The Defense Department waves away the protesting generals as just a handful out of more than 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 important, some active-duty members of the 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.
We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions. That happens in places such as Hussein's Iraq, Pinochet's Chile or your run-of-the-mill banana republic. And when it does, outsiders (including the United States) do their best to exploit it, seeking out the dissident factions to either stage a coup or force the government to change policy.

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 administration. Will the rest of the generals, retired or serving, now have to declare which camp they belong to?
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 antiwar 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.


At 2:19 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Utterly preposterous.

The implied suggestion that the existence of opposition equates to the sort of Banana Republic factioneering seen in other places and times makes me wonder, yet again, exactly what sort of open political debate and dissent Krauthammer favors.

Please, Hammer, explain to me how we root out the "acceptable" discourse from its opposite.

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

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At 3:50 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Well, in fairness to The Hammer, the concern that he highlights is a unique concern to the body politic of a democracy with a civilian controlled military.

Generals are not your garden variety civilian. And we take extra steps to make sure they (unlike ordinary civilians) subordinate themselves to the civilian elected government for the reason that they technically possess the power (through the use of force) to overthrow that government.

I understand your concern that some should not define acceptable vs. unacceptable dissent. But the military is a discrete area worthy of such consideration.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Which is why, were these sitting Generals, I might be inclined to agree with the Hammer.

But they aren't. They're retired.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Retired General that have claimed to speak on behalf of sitting Generals.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

I refer you, good sir, to a mutually-enjoyed film: Crimson Tide.

"You were both right. And, you were both wrong. This is a question that will occupy the Navy, and the United States military, for a long time to come" (or something like that).

There is a point (ne I won't claim to begin to know how or where to define) wherein military judgement can be suspect. Who better to opine on that judgement than the military?


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