Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience. ~ James Freeman ClarkeIn 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. PattonA 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.