Tuesday, September 11, 2007

McCain On The Benevolence of Generals


I will note up front that this post has nothing to do with any specific general, other than the one presented as a counter-example to McCain's argument.

John McCain, on the Diane Rehm show, made an argument which boils down to "Generals are looking out for the good of the nation", rejecting any argument that they are motivated by politics or would skew their results for political purposes. I suspect that McCain knows better, having seen through his military and political career numerous examples of military officers telling their superiors "what they want to hear", and knowing full well how political the position of a general can be - you aren't likely to become a general, and are even less likely to maintain your position or get further promotions, unless you are skilled at working with politicians.

If we accept McCain's argument that we should defer to generals because they are looking out for the good of the country, can he not think of any examples where the general's (assumed) belief of what was good for the country was at significant odds with the position of the nation's civilian leaders, other generals, or in the view of history? (Even one?)

Did McCain somehow overlook the manner in which Bush has treated generals whose positions happened to differ from his own? Is McCain truly arguing that as President he would defer to the presumed good faith positions of generals, even when those views are diametrically opposed? (As if that's even possible?) Or is he suggesting that if the President endorses the beliefs of a particular general, the public should defer to the "good faith" of that general, no matter what any other generals may be saying.

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