There’s a pervasive myth among the more credulous and naive Americans that that U.S. military is somehow above the usual self-interest that is a chief characteristic of government bureaucracy. (Note: Many Conservatives of course think that the military is magically separate from the government altogether, so when they speak of “small government,” they never mean the tax-payer-funded military.)
Every time a general speaks to Congress, this is treated as some kind of opportunity to hear from the Oracle of Delphi, as if the generals have no interest in padding their own resumes and securing more taxpayer funds for their pet projects. In the real world, asking a general if Congress should pony up more money and more toys for war is like asking a barber if you need a haircut. The answer rarely surprises.
For example, the Drudge Report this afternoon features the banner headline: “OBAMA PREPARES TO IGNORE HIS GENERALS.” (It linked to this article.) What is implied here of course is that ignoring the generals is a grave mistake. “The Generals” would never steer America wrong! They only want what’s good for America! They are above mere self interest! Those government bureaucrats called “military officers” would never act like government bureaucrats!
I’ve written on General Worship before, and this latest example just helps perpetuate the myth that a general’s opinion somehow holds more weight than that of an elected politician. Generals are politicians and should not be trusted any more than a Senator or a President.
I’m left in the unenviable position of defending the execrable Barack Obama on this one, who no doubt is just trying to find favor with the left wing that is quickly abandoning him. But humor me and imagine that Ron Paul were president and sought to end one or two of America’s half dozen public and covert wars going on right now. The Generals would no doubt come out and say how “unwise” this was. Conservatives would no doubt rally in favor of the military against the civilian government. The Constitution be damned.9:57 pm on June 21, 2011 Email Ryan McMaken