Civilian Control

Kevin Drum's right about this but also wrong. Yes, I would like the principle of civilian control over the military to be upheld whether or not I like the civilians who are running the military. But in the real world the way the principle of civilian control operates is that when Republicans are president, we do what Republicans want with the military, whereas when Democrats are president, we do what Republicans want with the military. We all recall how Colin Powell relentlessly battled civilian policymakers and for his trouble became a reviled national figure huge media star.

It'll be the same when Barack Obama is president. If a single four-star general agrees on the merits with the GOP talking points of the day, suddenly General Republican will become the greatest military thinker in American history and disagreeing with him is basically the same as pissing on the corpses of our dead troops. We remember the surge flip-flop, don't we, where disagreeing with Bush's Iraq policy was considered treason until Bush decided he wanted to shift policy, cashiered his old generals, brough in some different guys, and then blindly supporting Petraeus became de rigeur.

That's just the way it is, just like the press is suddenly going to rediscover "the rule of law" as a concept.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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 Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

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

More in Politics

Just In