Monday, September 10, 2007

I recently posted about the line between politics and military and thought that today's testimony by General Petraeus was a good time to bring it up again. I am not saying, by any means, the General Petraeus is a political General, but what I would like to point out is that it is possible that the unnecessary blurring by both sides between politics and military is part of what makes his testimony today so charged. As both sides have politicized the military, military leaders, whose job is to assess the situation and give their best professional assessment of the situation to political leaders (who then make the decision as to how best to deploy and use the military, are no longer able to do so. Whatever Petraeus says, Democrats will hear what they want and Republicans will choose what they want to hear also. This quote from the debate on Univision by Edwards demonstrates the problem:
I'm absolutely in favor of America leaving Iraq. What I'm concerned about, about the Petraeus report, is that it will be basically a sales job by the White House, that it'll be a PR document -- (applause) -- because that's what we've continually gotten from this administration, throughout the course of the war.
Were things to run as they should, no one, Republican or Democrat, would have an opinion about what to do next until after the military leadership gives its honest assessment of the issue. The system has been corrupted and will take many years to fix. The question is, will things get better or worse if things stay on their current course.

That being said, my friend wrote a comment to the blog about military and political intermingling that I wanted to re-post here so more people could read it. I thought it an interesting post and very insightful.
...what you said reminds of a feeling I had while watching you graduate at West Point. And that was that these men and women who were graduating, and all of the people in the military, have voluntarily given up their right to political descent, a precious part of American citizenship. To have a military which does not dominate the state, we the citizens require that you (the military) not have on opinion on political matters, but obediently serve the decisions of the majority, or the decisions of those elected by the majority. And this realization made me feel all the greater that my duty as a civilian, as one who hasn't given up that right, is to engage constantly and forcefully in political debate and action, to make up for what you cannot do. I came away from your graduation feeling like the rest of America and I need to work a lot harder to be worthy of the sacrifice that you and your cohort have made for us.
I think if more people had a similar understanding of their role as citizens, and what true democracy demands, political discourse and debate in this country would be far higher than what is found on Hannity & Colmes or The Huffingtonpost.


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