Monday, January 13, 2014

The Hardest Question Yet

EagleOne points the way to something that should give everyone pause.

From Powerline, quoting Gates from this book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War
Obama ordered an intensification of our effort in Afghanistan, while admitting privately that he expected it to fail. Approximately 80% of the fatalities our military has suffered in Afghanistan have taken place on Obama’s watch, not because he was pursuing a strategy that he sincerely believed to be in America’s interest, but because he cynically calculated that sending Americans to die in a useless campaign (as he assessed it) would benefit him politically.
This is what has set me back. EagleOne brings in one of Napoleon's Maxims.
Maxim LXXII. A general-in-chief has no right to shelter his mistakes in war under cover of his sovereign, or of a minister, when these are both distant from the scene of operation, and must consequently be either ill informed or wholly ignorant of the actual state of things.

Hence it follows, that every general is culpable who undertakes the execution of a plan which he considers faulty. It is his duty to represent his reasons, to insist upon a change of plan--in short, to give in his resignation rather than allow himself to be made the instrument of his army's ruin. Every general-in-chief who fights a battle in consequence of superior orders, with the certainty of losing it, is equally blamable.

In this last-mentioned case, the general ought to refuse obedience; because a blind obedience is due only to a military command given by a superior present on the spot at the moment of action. Being in possession of the real state of things, the superior has it then in his power to afford the necessary explainations to the person who executes his orders.

But supposing a general-in-chief to receive a positive order from his sovereign, directing him to fight a battle, with the further injunction, to yield to his adversary, and allow himself to be defeated -- ought he to obey it? No. If the general should be able to comprehend the meaning or utility of such an order, he should execute it; otherwise, he should refuse to obey it.
I need to ponder this some more, but here is a central point; who knew what when - and what did they do? Those in uniform who violated Napoleons Maxim do realize that, by knowingly going along with a political decision with no military end - they have become political themselves. 

Either they led people to their death for political convenience of others - or if they did not know, were ordered to by other up the chain of command.

So. Where does that buck stop ... or in the words of that great American Stateswhatever;

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