An NPR reporter (and someday I am going to take note so I can actually name names) told us yesterday that the military leadership is conflicted about what they can say in public. This all relates to Gen. McChrystal, who just officially retired, and his firing for having second guessed the boss.
The problem, according to NPR, is that the military leadership is conflicted because they serve two masters, i.e. Congress and the President. Thus, when Congress asks questions, they feel compelled to answer. Now here is a little civics lesson for you morons at NPR which I would expect the Pentagon Brass already knows. The President of the United States (POTUS) is not called the Commander in Chief for nothing. It’s right there in the Constitution of the United States:
“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States….”
That’s Article II, Section 2 if you want to look it up. Thus, the United States Military does not have two masters. It has only one. POTUS. Currently that is Barack Obama. (I could see some right wing nut arguing that this provision does not apply to the Air Force because it does not say air force. Never know what will come out of Cloud Cuckoo Land.) If Congress asks questions, The Brass would do well to make sure their answers are consistent with the intentions of the Commander in Chief.
This is nothing new. Harry Truman fired that fascist bastard Douglas McArthur after the General took his own views of foreign policy to the public in opposition to the President. Vietnam Era officers held their tongue rather than second guess Lyndon Johnson or Retched Noxin. In the days of George Busch, many honorable military leaders resigned their commissions before they spoke out against the Iraq war.
Back I the old days, military offices were taught that they had no business mixing in politics. Few of them voted, and none of them (except for the occasional demigod like McArhur) messed in politics. Eisenhower not only never voted, he was not sure what political party he should join up with when he was recruited to run for President. Now, for better or worse, those times are gone. Military officers often state their opinions. Some of them try to impose their religion on their subordinates. Others have regular followings on the right. One of the more frightening events of the Busch era was a spate of resignations by rational and centrist military leaders who opposed the Busch policies. Frightening because the right wingers stay on and push the military ever further to the right.
President Obama was right to fire McChrystal (wonder of the general will run for President), and he should continue to remind the nation just who is in charge. As for NPR (and, incidentally, Christine O’Donnell), you don’t need a lesson in constitutional law, but sometimes it helps to read the document.