Friday, April 15, 2005

Civilian control of the military: cornerstone of a successful republic

If you are not a regular reader of Mackubin Thomas Owens, an associate dean of academics and a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., you need to be. IMAO, he is one of the best POL-MIL writers out there and has the best vision of the delicate relationship between civilian and military parts of our government, and what makes it work so well for our system of representative democracy.

His latest, The Problem With Pushing Back is a must read if you are interested in the reasons and importance of civilian control of the military. The article was sparked by a recent Washington Post column by David Ignatius. Ignatius seems to have a lack of understanding of what a proper military should be like in a republic.
When you ask military officers who should get the job, the first thing many say is that the military needs someone who can stand up to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
If that desire by Ignatius does not concern you, it should. I don't know what "military officers" he is talking to, but they are dangerous and should leave active duty immediately. They have been too close to power and need to be put back on their leash.

Owens outlines the only real path a uniformed officer should take if they oppose the policy of their civilian bosses,
... (they) should ... voice their opposition (to policies) ... they kn(ow) (will) fail, publicly if necessary, and then resign() rather than carry out the policy.
You do not, "Stand up" to your civilian bosses. Offer your advice, opinion, concern, yes. "Stand up," no. Pinochet, Napoleon, Caesar, and Videla "stood up." McClellan, MacArthur, Shinseki resigned.

I can't add more to what Owens wrote. Like I often say, "read it all." Ownes's article is required reading.

Ignatius is letting his dislike of Rumsfeld blind him to what should be a primary concern to any citizen; the maintenance of liberty. A "uppity" military is a shortcut to oppression. .....and don't think a uppity military will always hit you from the Right, I have worked for a couple of outstanding Admirals who were, politically, to the left of Howard Dean.

Too many officers and civilians are asking for something that throughout history has brought nothing but shame, death, and dishonor.

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