One of my former high school classmates signs off her emails with the words, “America … Home of the free, BECAUSE of the brave.” I always smile in agreement, but I never gave it much thought — until recently. We ask a lot from our military, and we often demand that it perform with one hand behind its back.
Civilian control of the military is a necessary element of any modern, stable government. However, during the last 60 years, civilian control has increasingly meant micromanagement.
During the Korean War, Gen. Douglas MacArthur quickly realized that North Korean forces were being supplied from across the Yalu River. MacArthur wanted to cut off those lines of supply. President Truman, not wishing to escalate the war further, denied access but suggested instead that MacArthur bomb the southern half of the bridges crossing the Yalu into China. In his famous line, MacArthur responded, “In all my years of military service, I have never learned how to bomb half a bridge!”
During the early days of the Vietnam War, our pilots often observed anti-aircraft missiles being unloaded as they flew over Haiphong Harbor. Due tomicromanagement by President Johnson and his defense secretary, the pilots were only allowed to observe and report. Weeks later, those very missiles shot down those same pilots.
In the last few years, President Obama’s actions with respect to the war effort have been confusing, contradictory and poorly defined. At times, he’s even announced his intentions to our enemies.
When wars are fought 6,000 miles away by politicians, it is all too easy to view them as elaborate chess games. War is not a chess game. When “pawns” are sacrificed in war, mothers lose sons, wives lose husbands and children lose fathers.
Even more amazing, this administration insists upon prosecuting terrorists in civilian courts. The Rules of Criminal Procedure were promulgated to protect the constitutional rights of the accused. Military tribunals were designed to learn the truth.
Micromanagement of the military has now extended to who may or may not serve. Gays claim that their constitutional rights are violated when they are denied entry into the service. The Constitution doesn’t apply to the military. When one enters the service, one necessarily gives up those rights. Freedom of speech? Forget it. Freedom of assembly? Nope. Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures? No way! Right to bear arms? Are you kidding? (Remember the Fort Hood massacre?)
Moreover, as Allen West has stated, “We still have standards.” The military discriminates against the short, the obese, the non-conformist, the poorly educated, the stupid, the infirm, felons, the addicted and the handicapped, just to name a few.
The military has but one purpose, and it’s both a difficult and an honorable one — to prosecute our wars and to ultimately keep us safe. After civilian authority has declared war, we have an obligation to give the military the wherewithal and latitude to do it.
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