Mixing Military and Politics

Court of Inquiry by Tony Blankley (Washington Times April 19, 2006) takes note of the threats to established US practice in the recent spate of retired flag officers joining in on the BushBash.

Will future defense secretaries have to worry about potential rebellions by their brass, and will they start to choose commanders according to calculations of political loyalty? … When the United States teaches Third World militaries how to be professional, one of the key instructions is that the officer corps should be taught to be loyal to their government and its constitution — never personally loyal to the current leader. … bad habits start very innocently and slowly corrupt a person or a country.

There has been quite a bit of attention to the accountability mechanisms in the US government with a balance of power between judicial, legislative, and executive – often in complaints about one of these branch’s abuse of its power. There has also been discussion about free speech, the press, and “speaking truth to power.” The Clinton Generals raise the issue military accountability in it being led by civilian authority yet having loyalty to country and government.

Many of these arguments can be tied to the question of patriotism – as in ‘are you questioning my patriotism?’ Where is the loyalty? It it an honest loyalty? Too often there is a taint that indicates the loyalty is not to country and government but rather to party and ideology. This not only impugns the message but also the messenger. The innocence of bad habits starts with a motivation to relax intellectual integrity to achieve a desired result. Pinocchio comes to mind.

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