Freitag, 9. Juli 2010

Obama and the Military - An Uneasy Relationship?

With McChrystal fired and the repeal of don't ask, don't tell well under way, maybe its time to say a word on the relationship between President Obama and the military. Why now? Well, because the Pentagon started sending out 400.000 questionnaires to troops all around the world, asking how they would feel about a repeal of don't ask, don't tell. Though I think that the President handled the McChrystal-affair rather well, this latest move is a really bad one.

I totally understand the reasoning behind it, the ultimate nightmare of any Democrat: being soft on national security. Or more precisely: being perceived to be soft on national security. And asking for the input of soldiers is supposed to remove any doubt that the Obama-administration may not take these matters serious. I am guessing that sort of reasoning also led the president to appoint Patreaus to head the war-effort in Afghanistan. Though a point could be made that this reliance on a single general might also show a certain weakness. Anyway, asking the military for input on such an important issue is, nonetheless, not the way to go, its only making the problem worse. If the Commander in Chief issues an order, the military has to salute and carry it out. Starting a debate over an order the President is going to give anyway might be wise politically (though I doubt it is), but it is not a good idea in terms of civil-military relations. Do Democrats really don't remember how Rumsfeld waltzed into the Pentagon in the first days of his term as SecDef and re-assert civilian leadership? You simply don't take an officer out for an ice cream cone and ask whether he would feel fine to carry out your orders. The troops may or may not like it, but meanwhile, the President outranks them. He has got to make this real or Democrats will never get over their soft-on-national-security-fetish. Because this is actual weakness on national securtiy.



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