It has been bubbling up over the last few months from those associated with the previous administration. Mostly that group who floated around in the miasma one found in the Rhodes/Rice/Powers circles. They and their comrades seem to be suffering, ahem, from a little historical amnesia seasoned with varying degrees of fainting-couch flopping and communal bed wetting.
Last week, Jerry Hendrix & Adam Routh writing over at National Review showed mercy by bringing in a truck-load of cold water to this sad intellectual spectacle.
It seems that President Trump’s reliance upon retired and active-duty generals in staffing the upper echelons of his administration has raised concerns among a large number of well-informed people.They bring up Stephen Kinzen in the Boston Globe as a solid example of this breathless irresponsibility.
With retired Marine general John Kelly serving as White House chief of staff, retired Marine general James Mattis serving as secretary of defense, and Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster serving as national-security adviser, charges are being levied that the nation has embarked down a dangerous path. Some feel that the abundance of retired military officers in high-level government positions undermines the “non-partisan nature of the military” and decreases the public’s trust in its armed forces. Others are of the opinion that Trump’s reliance on military men will “throw off the balance of a system that for good reason favors civilian leadership.
Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.That guy, that overheated and ill-informed guy, is – perhaps not shockingly – a professor at Brown University.
These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser.
Everyone needs to take a powder.
The historical fact is that the government of the United States has always relied heavily upon retired military men for advice and service. Three former generals — George Marshall, Alexander Haig, and Colin Powell — have served as secretary of state. A fleet admiral and a general — William Leahy and Haig — have served as White House chief of staff. One vice admiral and four generals — John Poindexter, Brent Scowcroft, Powell, James Jones, and McMaster — have served as national-security adviser. The military has also played strong leading roles in the nation’s intelligence community, with ten admirals or general officers serving as either the director of central intelligence or the director of national intelligence. Additionally, while only two former generals have served as secretary of defense since the position was established in 1947, of the 56 men who served as secretary of war before that position was replaced by the secretary of defense, eleven had served previously at the military rank of general. Even more important, twelve of our nation’s 45 presidents have held the rank of general, beginning with General of the Armies George Washington and ending (for now) with General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower, who left office in January 1961.There is an additional factor to keep in mind to help explain why we have so many General Officers in the Trump Administration. In 2016, as a reaction to what rightfully is considered a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, many of our best and most experienced right-of-center leaders took themselves out of consideration for any position serving a possible Trump Administration. That narrowed the pool of people to pick from to either Trump partisans or those who kept themselves quiet to neutral.
There are consequences to elections and actions taken in the course of one. In the end though,
...everyone should take a breath. Historically, the appointment of former and actively serving generals to high-level political positions has been the norm. The service of former generals in high office does not signal the beginning of a military coup today any more than George Marshall’s service in the 1950s indicated an attempt to overthrow civilian authority then, nor does the service of retired military officers threaten to damage the reputation of the military so long as they provide considered advice and act in a responsible manner.
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