Andrew Bacevich has an oped piece in today's Post that closely parallels my own views on what to do about Afghanistan and the takfiri jihadi threat generally.
Senators Jim Webb and Jon Kyl debated this point on "Meet the Press" today. Webb argued for presidential freedom of action in deciding policy and Kyl argued that Obama should do what the generals want him to do.
I listened to the talking heads on Fox News Sunday and was struck by Senator Kit Bond's apparent support of the putative resistance of at least some flag officers to the authority of the president of the United States. Bond spoke strongly in favor of having Generals McChrystal and Petraeus explain to Congress what their opinion is (as opposed to the opinion of the president/commander in chief) as to what the policy and strategy of the United States should be.
This is actually an incitement to mutiny.
The Congress has certain functions with regard to the armed forces of the United States. They are delineated in the Constitution and have to do with organization, funding, acquisition of equipment and supplies and the establishment of a military legal system, that kind of thing. The powers of Congress with regard to war policy and strategy do not exist. The Congress has no authority at all with regard to operations. The Congress can refuse to declare war, but when was a declaration of war last thought necessary?
The armed forces are commanded by the president. Mullen, McChrystal and Petraeus and everyone else in the armed forces are the military subordinates of the president and not of anyone in the Congress nor of the Congress collectively. Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner and their friends in the Civil War Congress created a "Joint Committee on the War" in order to use the testimony of various Union Army generals against Lincoln. What a disaster that was! What an inducement to the poltical vanities and ambitions of the brass!
In demanding the testimony of the generals independent of the establishment of policy by the president, the Congress is encouraging the generals and admirals to publicly oppose the independence of action of their constitutional commander. What a foolish thing to do.
People like Senator Bond are implying by their statements that McChrystal should be treated as an equal by the commander in chief and that the president should defer to the opnion of this general or any other general. Have we given up believing in the principle of civilian control of the military?
Obama might change his mind with regard to strategy? Emerson said that "Consistency is a virtue of small minds."
He was right. pl