Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Krauthammer on the generals

A taste:

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.

Read the whole thing.

 

Discussions - 32 Comments

The blame for the rupture lies elsewhere.


Someone tell me at what point is silence no longer tenable? You all know that I think it was crossed years ago, but I’m curious to hear opposing views.


When is it acceptable for the military to say ... these guys are wrong, and they are getting people killed.

Wow, you mean people have the chance of dying when they are in a war?

.... the horror .../sarcasm off/

Yes Dale they do. Even more so when those running the show kow tow to the indolent and incompetent.


You may consider the death of the common soldier of little worth, but I a mere foreigner do not.


Their pointless deaths are as lamentable as the deaths of the thousands of Iraqis that those same incompetents have sent whirling into oblivion.


Yeah, it’s a funny subject alright.

Now, can someone answer the question?


When is, "I was just following orders" an inadequate response?

Typically officers who dislike their orders have the option of resigning their commissions. The right to defy an order only applies when said order is a direct violation of the accepted rules of warfare.

But in 1951, when MacArthur was dismissed from command and started criticizing the Truman administration’s policy in Korea, it wasn’t the conservatives who were complaining about it.

Thanks John. A coherent response:-)


Perhaps they should have resigned. It is a little gutless to start sniping from the sidelines when you have nothing left to loose.

Frankly, the spectre of upstart retirees bothers me less than does the spectre of a military with no means of influencing a dangerous Executive and his/her administration.

If he ever gets a chance to realize his "Bird flu martial law" plan, for instance, I would hope that the military would balk.

So, should only the military be over the military or rather, should the military have such complete influence that the President is more of a rubber-stamper?

I suggest some truly look into how General MacArther acted during the end of WWII and aftwards, including the Korean Conflict.

You will see what happens when the military starts to defy the Executive.

General MacArthur almost lost his job before the famous landing at Inchon of his public disagreements with the administration.

It was clear General MacArthur did not respect the President and, futher, did not respect the office. An example of this is what happened after the UN forces went into North Korea, with President Truman going to Korea. General MacArthur greeted the President. The two men shook hands, however the General did not salute the President. You just don’t do that.

Now, some of you want the military to have a great influence on the President and I suspect that some of you don’t want the President to have much, if any, influence on the military at all, which is contrary to our Constitution.

In 1951, after retreating 300 miles, MacArthur requested more authority to expand the war into China. Truman denied the requests. MacArthur then gave Truman an ultimatum. He told Truman that the forces would face annihilation or evacuation to Japan if he could expand the war into China. That was the last straw. Truman relieved him of the UN Supreme Command.

Again, you just don’t do things like that.

A little later on, with the forces stabilized around the 38th parallel again, Truman attempted to strike for peace. MacArthur, however, decided to negotiate his own peace. You see, he wasn’t out of the military yet or out of influence in the Korean Conflict.

He publicly told China that peace would be had if the lines were drawn at the Yalu othewise imminent destruction to China would be at hand.

Again, you just do not do that.

This was considered premeditated sabotage by Truman and fired him not much later.

MacAthur did not want a stalemate in Korea and his prediction was correct, however you do not go against the Commander in Chief, especially the way he did.

It should be noted that MacArhur viewed the commanders on the field of battle the only ones qualified to run the military, period. He ignored the fact that civilians ultimately run the military as per the Constitution.

By the way, there were many Republicans and many conservatives who were on MacArthurs side of things.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time the General influenced or attempted to influence the Executive to do things his way. Go look at WWII and shortly afterwards to see what I mean.

Then again, why bother, I mean, seriously, why bother with examining the truth?

It should be noted that MacArhur viewed the commanders on the field of battle the only ones qualified to run the military, period. He ignored the fact that civilians ultimately run the military as per the Constitution.


I agree with this in principle, and a military coup is not something that anyone is arguing for.


However at the point the civilian leadership is acting in a way that endagers the life of the soldiers that a commander is responsible for, the military have at least a responsibility to speak out. Even if it puts there job at risk.


I feel much the same way about politicians that go to war. They should be tried afterwards for the action regardless of the reasons. If the reasons were sound they get acquitted, if not imprisioned.


A true patriot takes the correct action regardless of risk to themselves.

So, those that carp about inequality, oppression, brutality, and the like invite the very thing they carp about when you start having the military run itself devoid of civilian leadership.

You say you are not talking about a military coup, yet that is what would result if your plan was put into action.

History is full of such things, hence our system of government.

Let’s go back to MacArthur and Korea.

MacAurther, it seems for people like Brian, should have been heralded as some sort of patriot when he not only defied his government and his Commander-in-Chief, but tried undermine a peace strategy initiated by his own government.

He was correct that under Truman/Eisenhower plan that a stalemate would occur and that more deaths would happen before any peace talks could truly be put into place.

However, the man wanted to fight China head-on and had many supporters in the United States.

Let’s say the rest or most of the military followed MacArthur and not the President. The military would need money, material, and personnel. Since the military would now be lacking any type of civilian control, it would use its brute force to take whatever it needed. Truman or Eisenhower, I forgot which, attempted to nationalize certain parts of American industry to help with the Korean Conflict effort, but was rebuffed by the U.S. courts. How can the courts stop the military from doing the same or moreso? Why would the military wait for Congress for funds if the shackles of the Constitution were already gone?

Yes, my friend, that would be a coup. You may say you are not calling for a coup, but your rhetoric demands one!

The military can speak out, however that can only happen AFTER they have left the service.

So, Brian, you still want to champion such things? I would not be surprised if you still do, nope, not one bit surprised at all.

The plot thickens:

General Anthony Zinni linked to Mary O. McCarthy. And who might she be you ask?

From PoliPundit.com today:

Mary McCarthy Fired From CIA For Leaking, Under Investigation http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1619294/posts?page=1

How do you spell relief? B-e-n-e-d-i-c-t A-r-n-o-l-d

Oh, I forgot, since you, Brian, are so concerned about military deaths, what would have been the result if we had taken on the Chinese? Do you think the Soviets would have sat that out?

Please.

I also find it interesting or amusing or both or just plain pathetic that Sandy ’The Pants’ Berger appointed her as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs in 1998.

Of course, the current administration was the most corrupt in history ... yeah ... whatever.

Let’s just say that we are still dealing with Clinton’s putrid stench coupled with decades of rotting intelligence/state deadwood.

Let’s just say that we are still dealing with Clinton’s putrid stench coupled with decades of rotting intelligence/state deadwood.


A yes the guy who lied about who has sucking his penis? What a monster he was.


I don’t recall anyone in his administration being indicted, for lying to justice officials, or shoplifting??!!! and I’m positive no one was jailed.


Let’s say the rest or most of the military followed MacArthur and not the President. The military would need money, material, and personnel ... blahh, blahh, blahh ... BS.


Oh, I forgot, since you, Brian, are so concerned about military deaths, what would have been the result if we had taken on the Chinese? Do you think the Soviets would have sat that out?


What was this about? You have lost me ... again.

I don’t recall anyone in his administration being indicted, for lying to justice officials, or shoplifting??!!! Comment 17 by Brian Coughlan Comment 17 by Brian Coughlan

Uh,

Brian

THE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS WERE FOR PERJURY AND SUBORNATION OF PERJURY!!! PERJURY IS LYING TO JUSTICE OFFICIALS!!!!

Sorry for yelling.

And besides. Stealing top secret documents is a trifle more serious than shoplifting (Sandy Burglar). And selling out military secrets to the Chinese for a $1,000,000 campaign contribution is not only stupid (he could have gotten alot more if he’d only have asked) it was more than a little corrupt. But hey, he’s only a democrat. We hold him to a lower standard.

Sorry for yelling.


Yes of course, other than the obvious sheesh.


However, you have got to know by now that I consider what Clinton did completely insignificant.


Bringing this up only hurts you guys you know. All that hot air back then about honesty, integrity .. not above the law .... blahh, blahh, blahh ...


And now? Not a peep from those same quarters about lies that kill. A seeming never ending stream of scandals and proceeding and actual convictions!!!


C’mon Guido you’re no dummy, get the blinkers off, these guys are toxic.

C’mon Guido you’re no dummy (others on this thread will surely take you to task for your poor judgment of me), get the blinkers off, these guys are toxic.Comment 21 by Brian Coughlan

Blinkers off.

See Comment 20.

I don’t know how this one almost got by me:

I consider what Clinton did completely insignificant.Comment 21 by Brian Coughlan

Another thing we agree on!!!

Guido, can you please use quotation marks or italics or something so that we can tell when you’re quoting someone? Thanks.

I find it hard to believe that one who talks about oppression, inequality, poverty, etc is willing to want a military that is loosened from civilian control.

I have suspected long ago that you, Brian, are more aligned with totalitarians that you let on and this furthers that suspicion.

comment 20


I’ve never heard any of that stuff. Must be surfing the wrong sites. I hope these people got a stiff prison sentence for their crimes?


Now, 6 years after Clinton left power, I bet they are still in prison for those crimes?


I’m certainly chastened by these heavily substantiated examples.


comment 23


Funny:-)


Dale ... never mind.

Okay Dale, let’s try a hypothetical. What if Evil Bill Clinton had turned as deaf an ear to his military as Wundkind George has? And suppose further that Evil Bill has committed our troops to -- say-- attacking China because China is ruled by dictators, and is responsible for centuries of human rights violations, and provides a nuclear threat to the USA. So, suppose Clinton made move after move to commit the US to such a war, despite it being an astoundingly bad idea, and against the wishes of the people, the military, and the rest of the world?

In such a case what would you have the military do? And please, if you would, respond to the spirit of the question, rather than trying to poke very probable holes in my metaphor.

By the way, I am with Brian: I am not suggesting a coup, but rather a healthy way for military leaders to express themselves, and to let the outside know of their concerns.

Well, instead of hypothetical, let’s deal with what actually happened with the military under Clinton.

Many military people, including upper ranking officers, spoke out, publicly, against Clinton’s attempt at lifting the ban on gay military members.

What happened? These people were told by stop it and it did. You do not such things while in the military. You make not like the man who is CinC, but you respect the office. You might like his policies, but you carry them out.

In our bombing of Bosnia, Gen Clark publicly admitted afterwards that the war we waged there was illegal, as he believes the definition of what an illegal war is to be, because we didn’t have UN approval. However, he carried out the plans even though he believed the war to be illegal and had the chance of killing many innocents.

Why?

Because that is what you do. You lose the chain of command, the obeying of orders, you lose discipline, you are not an effective fighting force.

As an officer, you are commissioned, you are serving the wishes of the President. It is that simple.

We already have healthy ways for the military to express themselves. To undermine the Executive or to outright disobey or to mutiny is not healthy.

Thomas Jefferson didn’t have the backing of his own cabinet when pressed for fighting the barbary pirates, yet our military, understanding the chain of command and having respect for the office of the President, carried out his orders.

But, hey, why should I be surprised about being advocating this? I mean, Brian, is not subject to our constitution and has demonstrated he would rather have us abrogate it in favor of something global, something not as respecting of human rights or freedom as our does.

By the way, Clinton did put the military to use on many, many occasions, of which some were of dubious value and had mixed results, and was on the verge of taking out Saddam in the late 1990s.

Lest I remind you, Albright, Clinton’s Sec. of State, stated something to the effect that the we use the military because we have it.

If that does not demonstrate the capriciousness of his administration in regards to the use of the military, then I don’t know what else does.

President Bush has attempted something far more expansive and noble than just lobbing missiles or bombing from afar.

By the way, I find it very, very interestin that the press, in general, is saying something totally different in regards to the so-called tension between the military and the president.

In the early 1990s, the press was clear that the military should not be vocal against the President while on still being in the military. Today, their position is totally reversed. Ironically, the folks speaking out against the President aren’t even in the military anymore, yet that doesn’t stop the press.

We had Generals and other upper level officers fined and given the option to retire when they spoke out against President Clinton.

That is the way it should be.

’’Guido, can you please use quotation marks or italics or something so that we can tell when you’re quoting someone? Thanks.’’ Comment 24 by Clay Bigby

Message received.

Dale - I basically agree with you regarding the chain of command, and its importance at all levels, especially near the top. Isn’t that why we are hearing from retirees?

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