15 August 2010

Rein in the General

The New York Times is reporting that Gen. David Petraeus "began a campaign on Sunday to convince an increasingly skeptical public that the American-led coalition can still succeed here despite months of setbacks, saying he had not come to  Afghanistan to preside over a 'graceful exit.'" Now, this may be the administration's policy, for all I know (as someone who sees no real national interest in prosecuting this absurdly expensive and ineffective war, I hope not). But why, I ask myself, does the media not even question why a general is making policy comments? It is not, never has been, and never should be, the role of the military to set policy. This is not a question of military strategy. It is a question of American foreign policy.

Increasingly, these military leaders seem to think they are wiser than their bosses, and that they are free to state their views and try to "campaign" for policies that may, or may not, be the policies of their civilian commanders.

This must stop. Petraeus should be fired if he is not speaking with the explicit authorization of the President; and if he is, then Obama should say so, and should have said it first. This makes America look divided against itself, and ultimately undermines the very ability to project power that is the purpose of the military.

I favor an end to the war in Afghanistan, as quickly as is feasible; but even more importantly I think the civilian government must tell the generals to keep their traps shut unless called upon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gyromantic Informicon. Comments are not moderated. If you encounter a problem, please go to home page and follow directions to send me an e-mail.