Civilian Control of the Military

Watching this 14 minute of clip of Scarborough Country looking at how isolated Bush is. Conservatives Scarborough and Mike Barnicle are (finally) using words like "delusional." Watch it here.

One of the things that they're really hammering is how he is not listening to the generals and not doing whatever they say. Barnicle, at the end, says that if there is evidence that Bush ignored his commanders on the ground, then he should be "relieved of command."

Let's get something straight. Bush was (probably) elected by American voters. Therefore Bush controls the military. What he says goes. Generals should not tell Bush what to do, and their advice should not dictate policy. When Bush was saying that he was "listening to his commanders on the ground" and insinuating that his generals supported his plans, it was obviously "spin" for purely domestic political purposes. If he had actually been listening to his generals, he would have been allowing tactics to drive strategy. His commanders would naturally have skewed opinions, emphasizing their own sectors and missions for resources. While it is important for Bush to listen to those opinions, they shouldn't be the dominant driver of American strategy in Iraq.

Much of the media is treating the fact that Bush has no support from his generals like some unprecedented calamity. There's actually a significant, and positive, precedent. In World War II, FDR went against the advice of his generals all the time, sometimes for diplomatic reasons (to support Britain or the USSR) and sometimes just using his own judgment. The invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch, was undertaken against strenuous opposition from American generals, who wanted to invade occupied France as soon as possible. World War II generals also fought amongst themselves for resources, men, ships, planes, intelligence, etc.

Now here's difference between FDR, who defeated one of the biggest challenges to liberal values, and Bush, who launched an elective war leading to the biggest strategic failure in the history of this country: FDR listened to his generals and occasionally ignored them in pursuit of his own strategic vision, while Bush doesn't listen to anyone who disagrees with him, and has no strategic vision other than "invading Iraq --> ? --> democracy". THAT is what the media should be concentrating on. The entire strategy for "victory" in Iraq is aimed at maintaining American public support for the war, in the belief that staying = winning and leaving = losing.

There are plenty of reasons that Bush needs to be booted out of the White House (torture, illegal domestic intelligence gathering, I'm sure there are others in this book that I saw on the Colbert Report but haven't read). But the American media and the American public needs to accept that the President is responsible for the strategy in Iraq and whatever he says it is must be carried out. If everybody realized that, it would be impossible to pin blame on the failed strategy in Iraq on anyone other than Bush (for example Rumsfeld). We would then be much closer to a consensus around impeaching Bush and Cheney, and getting some civilians in charge who might have a snowball's chance in hell in getting the US out of this mess.

BTW, girlfriend visiting tomorrow for two weeks, so posting will be light (by the standards of this blog, that means non-existent).

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