Freitag, 27. April 2012

A Quick Note on Civil-Military Relations - Why Romney Shouldn't Pick Petraeus

Now normally, I find myself agreeing with most of the well chosen words published on Foreign Policy's shadow government. This is partly due to Peter Feaver's brilliant foreign policy understanding, and it is partly due to the fact that I find the foreign policy by the Obama administration uninspiring. But what Paul Miller has put out on the internets got my attention and I find myself wholeheartedly disagreeing with him. The idea that General David Petraeus would be a fine pick for the GOP vice presidential pick is seriously misguided. That is not to say that Petraeus is not a fine officer. He certainly is one of the best military leaders the US military has produced. See this 1986 article on counterinsurgency for example [pdf]. But a thorough understanding of military professionalism would strongly suggest not to pick an officer for a political position, since that would compromise the fine line there is between the military and political sphere and keeping these spheres separate is a distinguishing feature of a modern day democracy, just like keeping church and state separate. Appointing Petraeus as head of the CIA was already a delicate move, since he does not exactly qualify for leading a civilian institution, for that he should have had a civilian professional background. I would actually be surprised if team Romney would even seriously think about the proposal, since a) they don't want to create the impression that Romney would be elected on Petraeus' coattails and b) the Republicans have a better track record in sticking to civilian supremacy. Picking Petraeus would be, forgive me, a coup. But it would not be a good one.  

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