Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Civil-Military Relations

Although he mentions me at the beginning of it, little or nothing in Mac’s long post below addresses the comments I made on his original post, except what appears to be his grudging acknowledgement that Rumsfeld’s judgment was perhaps not perfect.

Having reached agreement on that point, there are lots of things that could be said in response to Mac’s long post. Here are two. 1) If good civil-military relations in a democracy mean that ultimately civilian preferences prevail, it does not follow that the military should not push back, as Mac put it, against civilians or that civilians should not "interfere" in military matters. 2) Regardless of how we apportion responsibility among civilians and the military for what has happened after 9/11, the media was not the problem. Nor was it the problem in Vietnam. That the media was and is the problem is a point of view that surfaces repeatedly in this blog (e.g. see the comments to Mac’s long post). I think both Mac and I agree that this is not the case. The problem is decisionmaking within the government.

Discussions - 2 Comments

David, David, David (as they used to say on Saturday Night Live):

I've largely come around to your point of view on the imprudence of the Iraq War and other aspects of the GWOT, as you know, but I think you go to far here in suggesting that the climate of elite media opinion is not a significant factor in government decision-making. Maybe I am taking your post too far (please amend and correct if I am); to be sure, a determined and confident government would rebuff the media (as Reagan did to some extent in the 1980s). But to depreciate the role of the media in the course of Vietnam seems too far to me. Case in point: Peter Braestrup's book on media coverage of Tet. Do you think he was fundamentally wrong? I have been saying for a while now that Braestrup's case study can be re-written for Iraq. Let us continue this debate. Mac?

A question, if I may: shouldn't the "push-back" take place privately?

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