A veteran writes:
Pace's comments were out of line not just because of the content of his opinions, but because he gave one while wearing a uniform. We often talk about the division of chuch and state in this country, but perhaps an even more important division the founding fathers considered was the division between the military and the civilian run government. The latter establishes policy, makes judgements, engages in debate. The former is to shut the hell up and do as they're told, regardless of rank. No opinion! No expressed political views! No judgements except those outlined by the civilian government (for example, the Uniform Code of Military Justice - and then it's a legal judgement, not a moral one).
Members of the military are not even supposed to wear their uniform to political events (even if they say or do nothing at these events). Everyone in the military knows that this is the rule. We're putting ourselves in a very dangerous position if we're going to allow men and women in uniform to express their opinions. The distance between a comment and a coup is not as great as many would believe. As a vet, I say that Pace should at the very least receive an Article 15.
My own worry is that the Bush administration has acquiesced in and even encouraged some military officials' adoption of Christianism as an organizational ideology. When General Boykin went off in public about his God versus Islam's God, he should have been fired forthwith. Instead, he was promoted. Pace, by all accounts, is a good guy. But the fact the he felt comfortable pronouncing broad moral views on contentious subjects in uniform says a lot about the dangerous drift under Bush. Almost ever professional branch of government - from U.S. Attorneys to C.I.A. intelligence analysts - has been tainted.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty.)