The Collective
Monday, April 17, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Yesterday, I noted my critique of the notion that having retired generals voice their opinions equals a threat to the notion of civilian control of the military.

I noted another example of it this morning, although not from a Rumsfeld apologist (far from it, in fact). Writes Kevin Drum at Political Animal:

Regardless of whether or not we agree with the generals’ criticism, I think it’s wise to be uneasy about something that has a bit of a sense of a palace revolt against the current civilian leadership of the military.

He also quotes an e-mail from a friend currently deployed in Iraq who also cites concern on the civilian control issue.

Again, I ask: how can a set of retired military officers (otherwise known as civilians) be considered a threat to the idea that military is subordinated to civilian authority? These individuals no longer command anything, and as such, are hardly the stuff of a “palace revolt.”

It isn’t as if retired general have never criticized an administration before. Indeed, I recall a fellow named Wesley Clark who did quite a bit of criticizing not that long ago (and he’s still up to it last time I checked) and no one was worried about a challenge to civilian control of the military at that point.

I point all of this out because I find this particular line of thought (which is everywhere, it seems) to be rather flawed.

Again, once one is out of the military, one is a civilian again. There is no requirement to permanently give up one’s right to free speech just because one obtained the rank of general prior to one’s retirement.

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Filed under: US Politics | |


  • el
  • pt
    1. Well officially “retarred” military are always subject to “recall.” But you’re right on …civilians not military. Each week past retirement, they are able to influence even less … as they discover as they job hunt.

      Folks forget there are over 7000 generals on the retired rolls. Most credible news organizations would hardly get excited that six of em’ don’t like Rummy.Heck I can name two hands worth of em’ that have every reason to dislike the SecDef. In each case though, the SecDef was right, the disgruntled officer way off base and now a potential news story.

      Comment by NOTR — Monday, April 17, 2024 @ 8:51 am

    2. Outspoken Retired Generals and Civilian Control, Redux

      Kevin Drum, reflecting on the recent spate of retired generals speaking out both both for and against Donald Rumsfeld’s being replaced as SECDEF, remarks, “Regardless of whether or not we agree with the generals’ criticism, I think it…

      Trackback by Outside The Beltway | OTB — Monday, April 17, 2024 @ 2:27 pm

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