As I noted yesterday, you don’t have to make a very deep scratch on a liberal/progressive to find a virulently anti-military wacko who thinks that people who serve in the military are not quite human and definitely not citizens. In that post I noted how the fashionably progressive wing of the media apparently thought it was cute to refer to Trump’s cabinet as a “Junta” because it included retired general officers.
Today, two rather prominent publications, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, picked up the same story.
President-elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly as secretary of homeland security, officials familiar with the decision said Wednesday, recruiting a third former member of the military’s brass to serve at the highest levels of his administration.
Trump’s choice of Kelly — and his continued deliberations about tapping as many as two more military figures for other posts — has intensified worries among some members of Congress and national security experts that the new administration’s policies may be shaped disproportionately by military commanders.
“I’m concerned,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “Each of these individuals may have great merit in their own right, but what we’ve learned over the past 15 years is that when we view problems in the world through a military lens, we make big mistakes.”
Wait, wait, a second. I’d like for Murphy to define the specific situations where viewing the world through a “military lens” produced mistakes. There may be some but I think the number of instances, particularly in the past eight years, where viewing the world through the “lens” of a leftwing academic, a political fraud, and/or a community organizer really screwed the pooch. It wasn’t generals who set off a regional war and a refugee crisis. It was the Democrat candidate for president.
Daniel Benjamin, the former senior counterterrorism official at the State Department in the Obama administration and now a professor at Dartmouth College, said having too many generals in what are traditionally civilian positions is “a matter of deep concern.”
“Generals as a rule believe in hierarchies and taking orders, and if the president gives them an order you have to wonder how likely they are to push back against it,” Benjamin said. “Generals have one set of skills, and diplomacy is not in the top drawer of that tool kit.”
Benjamin is political scum who doesn’t have a skill set. His background is as a freakin journalist and by fellating the right members of the Clinton entourage he was able to be appointed to State’s senior counter-terrorism position. How did that work out for us?
In fact, the WaPo spreads their “concern” even broader. Apparently serving in the military at all calls your citizenship into question:
Other figures with military backgrounds are populating the administration as well, including Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who graduated from West Point and served in the Army in the Gulf War, is Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, while Stephen K. Bannon, a former naval officer, will serve the president in the West Wing as chief strategist and senior counselor.
The Wall Street Journal’s offering is Donald Trump’s Choice of Generals for Top Posts Raises Concerns:
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday turned to a third retired military officer to help him run the country when he takes office in January, a move that represents an unusual level of military influence in the executive branch.
In so doing, Mr. Trump is plumbing the global expertise and experience that comes with a life in the U.S. military, but he has also aroused concerns that his reliance on retired officers to lead security agencies ignores an important constitutional tenet of civilian oversight of the government.
Critics of Mr. Trump still believe the choices threaten the constitutional fire wall between the civilian government and the military. “This is not normal,” said Stephen Miles, director of the antiwar Win Without War coalition. “As the saying goes, if all you have is hammers, everything looks like a nail.”
The Founders were very concerned about civilian control of the military. That is why the President is commander-in-chief. That is why the military is funded one year at a time (this, by the way, is a gift of our English ancestors who used the “Mutiny Act” to ensure that an Oliver Cromwell dictatorship could never happen again). This is why the military is forbidden to engage in civilian law enforcement operations. The fact that we’ve never had a military coup, though we had a very, very close call in 1783, shows that not only did the Founding Fathers get that right but it also underscores the fact that Americans are not a people who really like being ordered about.
I don’t like Trump’s nomination of James Mattis because I think it dismisses a legitimate concern that any society should have about allowing an officer with close and current ties to the Armed Forces be put in the position of being the direct supervisor of the chiefs of staff of all services. (The Goldwater-Nichols Act did this in the interests of cleaning up lines of authority within the Defense Department.) But Congress has spoken on the subject and I do not believe that Mattis is a danger to the republic. Far from it. He would be one of the last guys in the nation to screw with the Constitution.
That being said, Kelly and Flynn offer no risk at all to civilian control of anything. They are civilians leading civilian organizations. The objection that runs through these two stories seems to be that being a career officer, but particularly a general, disqualifies you from serving in the government. This is lunacy. The only place in the United States that you find people with actual foreign policy and diplomatic experience is either a) among ambassadors and b) among general officers who have served as regional commanders-in-chief. Academics don’t have diplomatic experience. Deep pocket donors don’t. Senators don’t.
Generals know now to manage a civil service workforce. They have to. Some military commands are actually composed of a majority of civilians. Generals are familiar with the federal budgeting process. Most of them have been investigated at least once by either the service Inspector General or the DOD IG because all allegations of impropriety against a general officer, even anonymous ones, automatically trigger an investigation. So they are well aware of the dangers of even the appearance of misconduct. Generals know how to manage large organizations composed of lots of people of all kinds of backgrounds and with all kinds of skills. The current Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, was a lawyer in private practice before his appointment. What were his qualifications beyond being a Democrat party hack? None.
This whole objection to retired officers is nothing more than sour grapes on the part of the left which seems to think that journalists and lawyers and academics should be the natural ruling class… probably because they think they know everything.
And if you are young man or woman serving in the Armed Forces, pay heed to this. Think about it next time someone thanks you for your service, rest assured that most of them are lying to you because they feel like the have to. This kerfuffle shows what they are really thinking.