Freedom Isn’t Free, and Militarism Doesn’t Buy It

Posted: July 4, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The bumper sticker says, “Freedom isn’t free,” and it’s correct–just not in the way that the driver thinks. July 4, the day we severed consent to the Tyrant, was the day we became independent–not the day Cornwallis surrendered.

Remember: Freedom isn’t free; it requires people–all people–to be willing to risk everything to assert the rights they have by virtue of being human.

Also remember–one of the grievances that led the Founders to sever consent to the Tyrant’s rule:

“He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.”

Don’t forget.

  1. Do you think there is an issue in this country with the “Military independent of and superior to the Civil power”? I think it is always important to be cautious of people/policies encroaching on our freedoms, but I do not see any examples of this right now in the US.

    The closest example of the military in recent memory somewhat subverting the commander-in-chief and congressional mandates would likely be General Wesley Clark during the war in Kosovo, no? He used his “duel hat” as the SACEUR to do some things that were not necc. in line with the President’s intentions.

    Happy belated Independence Day, by the way. . .

    • dcrowe says:

      [Darnit–I thought this comment would display under the other comment…read the other one first, LOL]

      One final thought on the military and domestic politics: By far the most pernicious trend in the power relationship between the civilian and military structures is the new normal of generals weighing in on debates on future U.S. foreign policy in the news media. I don’t know where we got the idea (although President Bush certainly seemed determined to do as much damage as possible in this regard) that civilian political leaders were to defer to the general officers on military policies, or that it was remotely appropriate for a subordinate of the Commander in Chief to attempt to shape the political environment in which his commanding officer has to make decisions.

      Suggested general order when it comes to generals on T.V.: If you are asked by some reporter about possible U.S. military policies that have not been crafted yet (say, for example, whether we should attack Iran), an officer’s only acceptable answers are:

      a) Name, rank and ID number; or
      b) “That’s not a question I’m at liberty to answer. I suggest you refer it to the White House.”

  2. dcrowe says:

    Happy belated Independence Day to you too, wilsonrofishing.

    I see problems in both the domestic and international arenas. Internationally: State is so atrophied and resource-starved compared to the Pentagon that foreign diplomats now emphasize building relationships not with their U.S. diplomatic counterparts, but with the military commanders in areas of operation. Nominally, the U.S. ambassador is the hand of the president and the top U.S. official in a given country, but I know that while watching the Petraeus/Crocker hearings in 2007, I certainly did not get the sense that Ambassador Crocker was the center of U.S. power in Iraq. Petraeus, on the other hand, could have been mistaken for proconsul. State no longer even produces the top ambassadors in “hot” regions:

    [O]ur new envoy to Kabul, Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, is not a diplomat but the former top military commander in Afghanistan. Despite his qualifications, Eikenberry’s appointment highlights the atrophied State Department (was there no senior diplomat similarly qualified due to lack of resources?) and the militarization of our foreign policy. More people serve in military bands than serve in the State Department, a resource dearth so dire that apparently State’s efforts in Afghanistan apparently have not produced a diplomat more qualified to lead our diplomatic, non-military efforts in Afghanistan than a military general.

    Domestically, in political debate, even the suggestion of cutting an ever-expanding, wasteful, and economically harmful oversized Pentagon budget has become a political third rail, making it exceedingly difficult to rein in expansive military policies. I could go on and on (the Pentagon’s undue influence on the media, culture, in politics, academics, etc.) but I figure enough of this info finds its way into my posts that you probably know where I stand on it.

    I’m not suggesting that the military has broken free of the control of their elected officials. I am suggesting, though, that their power and influence relative to the civilian structures of government is growing and that a great many people seem to think that such growth protects our freedoms. It doesn’t.

  3. I agree that the State Department is in sorry shape, the reasons for which (and the way ahead are worthy of a topic alone and of themselves). And State’s feeble condition certainly is a severe impediment at accomplishing many foreign policy objectives around the world.
    But I disagree with something you quoted, that Amb. Eikenberry is not a diplomat. While he may hail from Mars (the DOD), he most certainly is a diplomat, and I would argue that he has as much training, education and experience as any Foreign Service Officer that State could have slotted in Kabul. He spent over two years in Afghanistan while in Uniform, and during that time traveled all around the country and the region. The Afghan leaders know him, too, and continuity certainly counts for something these days.
    That is another underlying problem with State, one that I believe they actually are getting a handle on: there are more and more Foreign services officers who are working at what I would call the “operational level” in places like Afghanistan and elsewhere (like in Provincial Reconstruction Teams); they are getting the experience and developing relationships that will serve them well when they advance in their careers. The so-called “civilian surge” is, in my view, a positive development for the capabilities of the foreign service officers’ corps. I also think they should actively recruit more people from the military to come over to State as well, and there is no program in place that I know of that does this. We have many junior to mid-grade officers with tremendous operational experience, language skills, and time spent immersed in cultures where we have long term foreign policy stakes; it would be great to take advantage of people who already have demonstrated an aptitude for this kind of work, a sound investment in the future for DOS. . .

    • dcrowe says:

      The point I was making re: Eikenberry is that yes, he’s top diplomat now, but the experience he had that made him attractive and ‘qualified’ is military experience, not diplomatic. A career diplomat would have a different perspective, and the fact that the most experienced person for the job is military vs. diplomatic just points up the very thin bench over at state. But I think in general, you and I agree on that point.

  4. Dear Wilsonrofishing,

    What is the role of the envoy to Kabul? ‎

    Have you been to Afghanistan?

    Likewise, “civilian surge” for what? ‎

    Hakim in Afghanistan

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