The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Washington Post Gets It Wrong

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Today’s Washington Post editorial laid out two cases. The first was that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign. The second was that former and current military brass should not weigh in on the debate, for that is a direct challenge to civilian control of the military. “In our view Mr. Rumsfeld's failures should have led to his departure long ago. But he should not be driven out by a revolt of generals, retired or not,” the paper said [1].

However, the Washington Post’s attack on the idea that former military officiers, even top brass like Generals, should not participate in the political process is a strange one. These are officers who have performed their duty; who have served their nation, and have retired with dignity and honor. They too are civilians, and they should feel free to participate in the political process, and in the democracy that they spent a good part of their lives defending. Our nation’s corridors of power are littered with ex-generals and other military figures: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Grant, Eisenhower, Wesley Clark, and many others. Many have parlayed military service into political careers, and successfully at that. John Kerry, fresh off his combat tour, questioned the Vietnam War and his words are well remembered as a powerful, eloquent footnote to a disastrous war.

These are men with decades of experience in the military. They are the perfect critics of Secretary Rumsfeld: Loyal generals who unquestioningly did their duty when they were in uniform, and are trying to improve the system when their job is done and their tour is over. They should be praised for their honestly, for their loyalty to our constitution and for their bravery in speaking out against what they see as failings in the military and the Pentagon. The fear that this undermines civilian control is ludicrous. What is more ludicrous is asking our fighting men and women to serve, and then shut up in retirement. Yes, these are not ordinary soldiers; they are the top decision- and policymakers at the Pentagon. But so long as our Generals are obeying orders and doing their duty while in uniform, there is no conflict of interest. And in trying to correct the flaws and incompetence in our system while in their civilian life, they are admirably still performing their duty.

-E. Desiderius

The Washington Post – The General’s Revolt

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | E-mail this post

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