Friday, June 25, 2010

It is good to be rid of General McCyrstal

General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), made incredibly disrespectful comments in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. He, and others in his staff, mocked the vice president and the president’s staff. The general’s comments demonstrated a tragic disrespect for the constitution and the office of the president. For this, President Obama was right to fire the general. But, perhaps more importantly, it was right to fire the general to maintain a total, unquestioned, control of the military by the civilian government of the country.

The founding fathers wanted nothing to do with a standing army. All of the kings of England had used them as their personal enforcer. The armies of England had invaded other countries, put down justifiable rebellions and enforced otherwise unenforceable edicts of the kings. Of course, the armies were sent to the New World to keep the colonist in line.

It is clear from the original wording of the constitution that there was not to be an army that might be used against the citizen’s will. In the constitution, it clearly states that armies should only be raised to repel invasion and other such events. Then, only for two years at a time. The constitution also states that the President of the United States, a civil politician, should be the commander in chief of the army. All of this to maintain control of a military that could became threatening if it gained too much power.

From the time of the early republic, generals have been fired. Although, it is not a common event in the country. All of them because they had challenged the President’s policy at the time. None of them, at anytime – at least in public – actually suggested in any form that the government should be over turned, just policy. A general’s job is to carry out the policy of the United States. While it is natural to want as much power as possible to complete any task, the level of power can never be greater than the president.

It isn’t just the generals that we need be concerned about. When the people at the top are mocking those that are in control, the chain of command will be compromised. As orders come down from the president, those that are assigned to carry out the directives are to respond with total commitment. Disrespectful attitudes from superiors about those that are issuing the orders may mean someone will second guess a command. That could be deadly to themselves, their fellow soldiers and to the republic.

It is good to be rid of General McCyrstal.