Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Call for a Simple Act of Courage

Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience. ~ James Freeman Clarke
In a matter of days, President Bush is going to decide to do something stupid and there are six men with the power to stop him if they have the courage.

Pouring more troops into the Iraq War, the infamous Surge, will likely have little impact on the civil war in that country. The civil war is organic now. Adding 20,000 or even 200,000 more troops will have little effect. The President can station a platoon on every street corner in Baghdad; they would present ready targets but would not reduce the fevered cycle of vengence gripping that country. It is far more likely that the added strain of the escalation on an already overstressed military will lead to the total collapse of the Army and Marine Corps as effective forces. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are not fools; they know this is true.

The question is, what will they do? Will the six members of the Joint Chiefs meekly acquiesce to this madness because it is the easy thing to do? Or will they display what they hope every Lieutenant and Corporal under their commands possess? Will the Joint Chiefs have the courage to oppose a deployment they know will have no effect other than the needless deaths of American servicemembers?
Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men. ~ Gen. George S. Patton
A simple act of courage can save countless lives. The Joint Chiefs have a moral duty to resign en masse if ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to commit folly. It is not the easy path. It takes courage to say "no." It is far easier to wash their hands of the matter and declare it "not my responsibility." Easy and cowardly.

We will know soon whether the generals and admirals who sit as the Joint Chiefs have the moral courage befitting their ranks and uniforms. Or, whether they are just political hacks.

Further Consideration: Kvatch's comments set me thinking, there is a historical precedent for what I am asking. On October 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon ordered his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, to fire the Watergate investigator Archibald Cox. Richardson refused and resigned. Nixon then ordered Richardson's deputy, William
Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused and was fired by Nixon. Nixon had to go down to Solicitor General Robert Bork to find a Justice Department official who would follow his orders. That evening entered history as the Saturday Night Massacre. That night led more directly to Nixon's fall than the Watergate break-in. Difficult times separate the men of courage from the sniveling sycophants.

6 comments:

Kvatch said...

The question is, what will they do? Will the six members of the Joint Chiefs meekly acquiesce to this madness because it is the easy thing to do?

Oppose? I sure hope so, but--and this is going to display my total ignorance about executive/military relations--can they refuse a direct order if Bush gives it? There is no way this could be construed as an illegal order, is there?

KnightErrant said...

They can't keep their jobs and refuse to follow orders. Bush likes calling himself the "Commander-in-Chief" but this is one time he is right, he outranks all of the generals. If they want to keep their jobs they have to follow his orders.

The Joint Chiefs can, and should, refuse to follow foolish orders by resigning their posts. They have both the right and the responsibility to do that.

two crows said...

hope so, too.
I really think we're in way deeper than any surge could help-- even if it were the moral thing to do which it most decidedly is NOT.
and, not the least reason it isn't is the fact that, rather than calming things down, adding troops is likely to have the effect of pouring gasoline on flames.

two crows said...

in fact--
maybe that's the point?
if Bush can provoke another 9/11 here, he may think he could then declare marshall law and keep himself in office?
he might see this as a way of staying out of prison in 2 years.

PoliShifter said...

There have been many posts over the past couple of days on Bush's Jack&Spew plan for Iraq and I feel like I keep saying the same thing over and over...because I am...But I feel I need to say it again.

This is a win-win for Bush who wants the U.S. in Iraq for as long as possible hence the vatican-sized embassy and permanent military installations.

The goal from day 1 was to create a permanent military footprint in the Middle East.

With the election, the chorus calls for getting out of Iraq were getting louder and louder.

Bush shut them all up by telegraphing his next move to send more troops to Iraq.

Now we're all scrambling, powerless, trying to figure out just how to stop Bush.

Your idea for the Joint Chiefs to resign enmasse is the best I've heard.

But the point is that Bush won this match from his first move in the opening gambit.

If Bush doesn't send more troops to Iraq we may think we've won and Bush may play the part of the sore loser, but behind the scenese Bush will know he's bought himself at least 12 more months in Iraq.

Bush may be a fucking idiot, but the politicos around him know exactly how to manipulate the medai, Congress, and the American People to get exactly what they want.

They've been doing it for 6 years and they are not going to stop.

spaghetti happens said...

Much as I support your position on the surge, I have to disagree with you choice of historical precedent. The Saturday Night Massacre was fundamentally different from what a mass resignation by the Joint Chiefs would represent. The difference goes to the heart of the difference between the civilian and military communities.

Simply put, GIs can't quit in most cases, and the rest of the time they usually choose to salute smartly and press on; orders are orders. It's one thing for a civilian like Elliott Richardson to take a principled stand and just say no. It will be quite something else for members of the nation's senior military leadership to buck their Commander in Chief--something that I doubt has any precedent in U.S. history.