Monday, October 05, 2009

The Importance of Principles in American Armies

At the moment, I am listening thru an audiobook of David Halberstam's "The Longest Winter". It is a history of the Korean War - a time in history known to most more thru the TV show M.A.S.H than from any of their history courses in school. One key aspect of the war discussed in the book was the difficult relationship between General Douglas McArthur (American commander of the Far East) and President Truman. At a key point in the War, there is a scene where Truman decides to fire McArthur - despite his long, distinguished record and his many friends in the opposition party - because the General began giving a series of speeches that directly challenged the president's policies in the war. This, the president believed, was unacceptable as a direct assault on the American principle of civilian control of the military.

I couldn't help think of this when reading this article on tensions between Afghanistan's commander and President Obama.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/6259582/Barack-Obama-furious-at-General-Stanley-McChrystal-speech-on-Afghanistan.html

I want to warn my fellow Conservatives to be careful about taking too much joy in seeing the president struggle with one of his generals. While we want honest, frank men in such positions of authority, it is key that we also have men who understand the chain of command and that ultimately their commander in chief is the president. Even when they disagree with him, they must both obey orders *AND* make it clear to the men underneath them that it is never acceptable to undercut your commander.

Generals who do not understand this principle tend to be the ones who utlimately invoke that horrible word, "Coup", when they do not get their way.

1 comment:

Ron said...

I am of two opinions on this. On the one hand, Obama is definitely stalling, and the general is trying to get him to make a move before we lose through inaction.

On the other hand, he had no need to go public with this that I can tell. He needed to meet with the President face-to-face, something they have only done once before he was called onto the carpet.

It feels like both sides are screwing this up.