Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Civilian Control of the Military?

This was written in response to a thread on the facebook group, The Constitution of the United States of America, titled, Do you think a President should have to serve in the military because he is Commander in Chief?

To ask, “Do you think a President should have to serve in the military because he is Commander in Chief?” is completely the wrong way of posing this question. The proper way of framing it is, “Do you think that the Commander-in-Chief should always be a civilian, elected President, in order to secure a democratic republic from military control?”

As James Madison said: “In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.” [1]

This principle of civilian control has been and remains the fundamental precept upon which the command and control of the US Armed Forces depends and from which it draws its legitimacy:

“From the birth of democracy in ancient Greece, the idea of the citizen-soldier has been the single most important factor to shape the Western way of war. In a democracy, combatants bear arms as equals, fighting to defend their ideals and way of life. They are citizens with a stake in the society they have vowed to defend. They do not fight as mercenaries, nor are they guided by coercion or allegiance to the whims of a dictatorial leader. Rather, their motivation stems from a selfless commitment to an idea that far exceeds the interests of any individual member of the society. For the armed forces officer of the United States, this ethos began with the militiamen who defended their homes, secured the frontier, and won a war of independence against the most formidable military power of that era. The American military tradition has since been governed by a strict adherence to the primacy of civilian control and, within that framework, has continued to champion the role of the citizen-soldier as the defender of the nation’s ideals.” [2]

[1] Max Farrand. 1911. Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1:465. Civilian control of the military

[2] The Armed Forces Officer. Chapter 1
The Citizen-Soldier—An American Tradition of Military Service p. 21

Copyright © 2010 Henry Edward Hardy

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14 April, 2010 Posted by | armed forces, commander-in-chief, Constitution, control, democratic, government, military, officer, politics, President, republic, scanlyze, tradition, US, USA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swiftboating

Swiftboating

President George Bush Jr. was not “swiftboated” — his Democratic opponent in the Presidential election of 2004, Senator John Kerry, was. Kerry was a Vietnam combat veteran who received three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and a Silver Star.

Bush Jr. had served stateside in a National Guard unit, and was later accused of failing to report for duty or take his required physical for more than a year.

To counter the possible impact of the contrast between the military record of the two candidates, a group of prominent Republican supporters helped to organize and provided most of the funding for an organization critical of Kerry’s war record called, “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” (SBVT). According to wikipedia:

“SBVT characterized itself as a non-partisan group both in the legal sense and in spirit, yet several prominent individuals who assisted SBVT also have had close ties to the Republican Party. According to information released by the IRS on February 22, 2005, more than half of the group’s reported contributions came from just three sources, all prominent Texas Republican donors: Houston builder Bob J. Perry, a longtime supporter of George W. Bush, donated $4.45 million, Harold Simmons’ Contrans donated $3 million, and T. Boone Pickens, Jr. donated $2 million. Other major contributors included Bush fundraiser Carl Lindner ($300,000), Robert Lindner ($260,000), GOP contributor Aubrey McClendon ($250,000), George Matthews Jr. ($250,000), and Crow Holdings ($100,000).”

Military career of John Kerry
George W. Bush military service controversy
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth

Copyright © 2010 Henry Edward Hardy

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1 April, 2010 Posted by | 2004, big lie, Bob J. Perry, Bronze Star, Bush, Crow Holdings, election, George Matthews Jr., George W. Bush, politics, President, propaganda, Purple Heart, Republican, Robert Lindner, scanlyze, Silver Star, Swift Boat, swiftboating, T. Boone Pickins, US, USA, Viet Nam, war, war record | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment