Should Generals Really Be So Neutral?

On McChrystal and Obama's supposed feud, Benjamin Friedman ventures:

The traditional view of these matters, the idea of objective civilian control, says that this is a political decision that officers should not publicly consider, as doing so will politicize the military. But what exactly is the grave harm we fear here?  A coup? A collapse of command authority? These are impossible and far-fetched, respectively. I doubt politicized generals are going to poison debate, and they might even improve it. For example, it would have been helpful if more generals publicly knocked the light footprint Rumsfeld wanted for the invasion of Iraq.

A bigger danger from comments like McChrystal’s is that they damage the Army’s apolitical reputation. But since that reputation is somewhat fictional the top layers of the military are plenty political I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. A realist’s view of this matter is that McChrystal can express his views and the President can always fire him, if he can bear the political cost.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

Just In