Yesterday, The Washington Post published three quarters of an exceptionally fine editorial titled "The Generals' Revolt." Referring to the retired generals who are speaking out, the key paragraph reads:
"Much of their analysis strikes us as solid -- but the rebellion is problematic nonetheless. It threatens the essential democratic principle of military subordination to civilian control -- the more so because a couple of the officers claim they are speaking for some still on active duty. Anyone who protested the pushback of uniformed military against President Bill Clinton's attempt to allow gays to serve ought to also object to generals who criticize the decisions of a president and his defense secretary in wartime. If they are successful in forcing Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation, they will set an ugly precedent. Will future defense secretaries have to worry about potential rebellions by their brass, and will they start to choose commanders according to calculations of political loyalty?
"In our view, Mr. Rumsfeld's failures should have led to his departure long ago. But he should not be driven out by a revolt of generals, retired or not."
As I wrote a column yesterday that also harshly criticized the revolting generals -- retired and active ("Seven Days in April -- Generals prepare to 'revolt' against Rumsfeld," Washington Times) -- obviously I heartily agreed with the Post's similar stance.
But the reason I argue that the Post editorial is only three fourths fine is that it does not recommend any curative action. All they call for is that people should "object." But an editorial from the newspaper of record in our capital that has identified the rebellion as "[threatening] the essential democratic principle of military subordination to civilian control" is shirking its responsibility by stopping short of recommending necessary action.
Because, if The Washington Post thinks -- as I do -- that we are seeing before our eyes a coordinated act of multiple insubordination by a group of generals, then such action should not go unsanctioned. The dangerous precedent must not be permitted to stand -- whether or not one agrees with their substantive criticism of their civilian superiors.
When the United States teaches Third-World militaries how to be professional, one of the key instructions is that the officer corp should be taught to be loyal to their government and its constitution -- never personally loyal to the current leader. (Hitler famously required an oath of personal loyalty to him from the Wehrmacht officer corp.)
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.