Saturday, April 22, 2006

Junior Officers join the discussion on Rumsfeld

The New York Times reported that the clamor against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has spread beyond the 6 retired generals and has come to include current young officers. This fact is interesting given our discussion on Thursday regarding the appropriateness of the generals speaking out, but active duty young officers rallying against Rumsfeld changes the situation. Far from the highest ranking of the armed forces, we're now seeing those actively and currently involved in activities in Iraq decrying both the methods of the war and the man they see as responsible for them. The article notes: "Junior and midlevel officers are discussing whether the war plans for Iraq reflected unvarnished military advice, whether the retired generals should have spoken out, whether active-duty generals will feel free to state their views in private sessions with the civilian leaders and, most divisive of all, whether Mr. Rumsfeld should resign."

Junior officers are now not only attempting to hold Rumsfeld accountable, but likewise questions the actions, or lack thereof, of their superiors within the military. These young officers have been willing to express such dissenting views not only amongst themselves, but with the press as well. This will likely raise redflags with the Pentagon and the White House as public opinion as well as the military's attitude continues to show discontent with the war in Iraq and those responsible for prosecuting it. If junior officers are willing to vocally oppose superiors and the Secretary of Defense, dissent may quickly spread among the military ranks. While I'm not predicting a military coup, we may well see a military, from the lowest private to four star generals, attempting to influence policy inline with their own views and desires. Should the military be able to speak with a concerted voice and change those in appointed positions or the foreign policy of the US, policy makers will be severely hindered in their ability to use all the necessary tools of foreign policy. If the military begins to oppose actions which it prefers not to do rather than which it cannot physically do, it will cease to be a tool utilized by policy makers in Washington. While certainly the military is not a pawn to me shuffled around the world to do the bidding of whomever happens to be the occupant of the White House at that time. It is not in the best interest of the United States to see the military an entity independent and unresponsive to the security and policy needs and interests of the state, nor one which dictates to elected and appointed officials the appropriate way to do their job.

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