Military Professionalism and Politics of Wanting It Both Ways

I will now address the concept of military professionalism.

Professor Cole writes:

The entire Third Infantry Division, some 20,000 soldiers, seems set to return to Iraq for a third tour in 2007.

The comments in this article by Gen. Rick Lynch alleging that the guerrillas in Iraq are trying to influence the US elections strike me as inappropriate for a serving officer, insofar as they are themselves a form of intervention in the election.

I disagree.

The Officer Corps has two obligations: To the Constitution, and to itself. The former is the external obligation of the Officer Corps, and it’s reason for existence. The latter is internal, and relates to self-maintenance of the ethical/moral aspects of military leadership, educational development, upkeep of professional standards of excellence, etc. This does not prevent officers from engaging in politics as they relate to warfighting. Indeed, Clausewitz recognized that war is an inherently political act. At the upper levels of command, military and political action become more and more intertwined. Furthermore, insurgency/guerrilla warfare, is perhaps the most political of all forms of warfare. To be removed for politics in such a war is to negate your own objective, which, of course, is antithetical to the political nature of warfare itself. Soldiers are political and military beings at once.

Another incongruency is that Professor Cole denies our military’s authority to state the obvious in terms of what the enemy is trying to do within the context of the American political process. Yet he has nothing to say of the insurgent’s authority do engage in American politics.

The left wants it both ways. They want to deny the soldier is a professional when he speaks on political matters, yet were they castigating GEN Shinseki when he was giving professional advice on necessary troop strengths in Iraq? Of course not! Shinseki is being a good soldier. But MG Lynch is engaging in politics in wartime! The horror! There are other examples too numerous to mention. Nonethless, the left believes the generals are military professionals so long as their opinions are in alignment with liberal dictums or are at least against the conservative line of reasoning.


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