Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Responsibility of Power

For senior leaders, what responsibility do they have for the truth? Where is the line between supporting your senior civilian leaders, avoiding political entanglements, and also being able to maintain your credibility by telling the truth?

Two recent examples, one that was required and runs right up to the line, and the other somewhere in the middle.

First, over to the UK;
Jeremy Corbyn has accused the chief of the defence staff of political bias after he criticised the Labour leader's anti-nuclear stance.

Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton told the BBC's Andrew Marr that refusing to launch nuclear weapons would "seriously undermine" Britain's "deterrent".

And he said he would be worried if such a view "translated into power".

Mr Corbyn called on the defence secretary to "take action" against Sir Nicholas over his comments.
Watch the full video, and judge for yourself.

General Houghton only spoke truth. He was clear and direct, and knew he was close to the line - but when it comes to the truth in such serious areas, that is a hill worth dying on.

You can also see an example, this time of an American Admiral who, with easier questions and a bit more hedging, does what a senior leader in the military of a representative republic does - answers a question in a relatively honest way that passes the smell test.

I think he went a bit to far and a bit outside his lane by affirming the nuclear deal, (he could have left that out) but I'll give him a pass as the line is fuzzy, and he made the call as he saw fit;
"We're still concerned about Iran's behavior overall. Positive about the nuclear agreement, but concerned ... about some of their malign behavior related to other things unrelated to the nuclear issue," he said.

Aside from the nuclear negotiations, "I don't know that we've seen a change in behavior," he added, speaking aboard a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane on display at the biennial show.
"The behavior we've seen is about what we've come to expect," he said. "They'll like to intercept our ships, especially the combatants, as they're going through the straits or in other places in the Gulf. They like to show that they can shoot weapons when they're in proximity."

In the heavily trafficked Strait of Hormuz, Iranian vessels have occasionally approached commercial ships passing through and told them they must fly an Iranian flag to ensure their safe passage, Donegan added.
About the same as the last Strait passage I did in '99. Routine. Anyone who expected Iran to act differently post-agreement, is a fool.

We need General and Flag officers who are willing to engage on the topics that involve our national defense, even if it does upset one political party or another. General Shinseki, USA (Ret) set another honorable example prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Responsibility of power is not just for the civilian leaders who lead our nations. It also applies to people with 3 or 4-stars who might find themselves in a place where they can sell their soul a bit, or just put out the truth in a respectful way and let history judge.

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