A very disillusioned military

Yesterday, I asked if the military will follow Obama’s Syria orders.  In both public comments and private emails, the answer to that question has been a unanimous “yes.”  Our military is under civilian control and, if the American people elect an idiot, our military is still under civilian control.  So be it.

But the military doesn’t have to be happy about this reality.  Robert Scales, a retired Major General, has been speaking to a lot of people in the Pentagon and he reports that they are deeply unhappy about the proposals coming out of the Obama administration:

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.


They are outraged by the fact that what may happen is an act of war and a willingness to risk American lives to make up for a slip of the tongue about “red lines.” These acts would be for retribution and to restore the reputation of a president. Our serving professionals make the point that killing more Syrians won’t deter Iranian resolve to confront us. The Iranians have already gotten the message.


Our military members understand and take seriously their oath to defend the constitutional authority of their civilian masters. They understand that the United States is the only liberal democracy that has never been ruled by its military. But today’s soldiers know war and resent civilian policymakers who want the military to fight a war that neither they nor their loved ones will experience firsthand.

Civilian control of the armed services doesn’t mean that civilians shouldn’t listen to those who have seen war. Our most respected soldier president, Dwight Eisenhower, possessed the gravitas and courage to say no to war eight times during his presidency. He ended the Korean War and refused to aid the French in Indochina; he said no to his former wartime friends Britain and France when they demanded U.S. participation in the capture of the Suez Canal. And he resisted liberal democrats who wanted to aid the newly formed nation of South Vietnam. We all know what happened after his successor ignored Eisenhower’s advice. My generation got to go to war.

The above is just a taste.  You really need to read the whole thing to understand how toxic the administration’s combination if ignorance and ideology really is.

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  • jj

    As should be becoming plain, the Constitution is somewhat ephemeral.  It holds as long as people believe it holds, and act accordingly.  Like Santa Claus: when you stop believing in him he goes away.  When you have shitweasals like Ruth Buzzi Ginsberg opining – endlessly – that it is in fact mutable and doesn’t really take a position on anything, then it is no longer what it was.  She damages, weakens, and chops pieces of it away every time she opens her brainless pie-hole.  When you have somebody like Obama (or before him, FDR) in the white house, who see the whole thing as a sort of Prates of the Caribbean Pirate Code – “they’re more guidelines, really” – then you come out pretty much where we’ve come out, and more pieces are ripped from it.
    The fascinating thing to me is that you get bozos like FDR and Obama running roughshod over any intimation of ultimate authority applied to themselves, yet they confidently expect everybody else to abide by the rulebook they ignore.  A rulebook that in fact is more binding on them than on anyone else, owing to the highly regulated (Constitutionally) position they occupy.  If we continue this way, then it is a virtual certainty that one of these days that rulebook will be brought into play and used to bat some future FDR or Obama in the nose, and America will be as over as Rome.  We will indeed have gone down that same road every other constitutional democracy has traveled, and our descendants can only hope they end up with an Eisenhower, or a Schwartzkopf, or a Franks in charge.
    The military, at this point, will go and do as asked, and perform more and more while provided with less and less to do it, because their leadership still believes in the Constitution.  They believe in it much more and much less cynically than the civilian “leadership” (is that the word?) does.  They believe in the authority set above them, and as long as they’re able to do that they obey.   They’ll go this time, certainly – but you are free to wonder how many more times they’ll be sustained by a document and set of rules rapidly becoming a fairy-tale.
    Because as noted: the Constitution that puts civilians in charge works only as long as everybody thinks it does.  Santa Claus bestrides the roof as long as the kid believes he does.  At some point an Obama runs a real risk of popping the bubble.   When enough military folk come to the belief that what’s sauce for the goose is ditto for the gander, and if it doesn’t apply to him then why the hell should it apply to them, then another constitution democracy indeed will bite the dust.  As others have learned: you can only keep expending them witlessly for just so long: then they’re done.  It always comes as a surprise – but note that it always comes.  It is not yet, but I don’t know why anybody would suppose America is immune.

  • Wolf Howling

    Amateurism doesn’t begin to cover it.  Did you read where Obama’s chief foreign policy advisor in the run up to the 2008 election, and now our UN ambassador, Samantha Power, thought that if Obama could just prove to Iran that Assad had used chemical weapons, the mad mullahs might abandon Syria.  
    I was floored by that.  This is a woman completely disconnected from reality, seeing the world as she wishes it to be, and a woman who obviously has no understanding of the history of the bloody mad mullahs.  She is projecting her view of Western rationality on a regime that operates wholly on its own internal logic.  If she does not understand that the primary goal of the mad mullahs is to spread the Khomeinist revolution – and beyond their own survival, they don’t care how much or whose blood they have to spill to accomplish that end – then she really does make Neville Chamberlain look like Churchill.  
    If this is the level of advice Obama is getting on foreign policy, it is amazing that we are not already in far worse a position than we are.  

  • JKB

    Oh, irony and confusion.  There is a decent argument that the war in Syria is over a gas pipeline from the Gulf States to Europe that Assad is blocking.  
    So it would be a war for oil/gas.  And Obama would be using the U.S. military and U.S. taxpayer money for the national interests of Qatar, Saudia Arabia and the E.U.  Only upside, the action is against the oil exporting interests of Russia and, I suspect, Iran.  
    Moreover, an economist friend who regularly deals with military people in the Middle East told me months ago, after returning from a trip to Jordan, that a huge part of the support of various outsiders in the conflict is over the protagonists’ position on the pipeline.

  • Mike Devx

    JKB, I read the same argument, which is about Russia’s commitment to Assad vs Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the “rebels”.  The argument is over whether natural gas pipelines are to be built from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and perhaps others), through Syria, to deliver natural gas to Europe.  Russia is 100% opposed, as it keeps Europe utterly dependent upon the natural gas pipelines from… Rissua!   As a result, to buy client status with Russia, Assad opposes it; and the pipelines apparently must go through Syria.  (Why the pipelines can’t go through western Iraq eludes me…)
    That is why the goal of these Middle Eastern states is to replace Assad – and they don’t care who replaces him, so long as they get their pipelines in defiance of Russia.  It goes a long way to explain why non-Syrian actors such as Rissia are pouring billions of dollars in support to Assad, and others such asa Qatar (the #1 exporter of natural gas in the world?) are pouring billions of dollars in support to “the rebels”.
    It looks to me that poison gas is just another tool of warfare to the people and culture of this region.  These are not rogue regimes by their own standards, using types of weapons that their people and their type of civilization abhor!  No, rather this is merely what they ALL are willing to do to those opposed to them, including internal enemies.  If by chance they signed on to some treaty or other, I’m sure they did so with a smirk, thinking, “Prohibitions against WHAT?  We laugh!  These silly, prissy little dilettantes of the West, we will crush their shrinking-violet whimpering little soldiers when the time comes.”
    Israel should especially take note.  Any and *every* means that can leave Israelis dead will be used against Israel by these people, when the time comes.
    It’s not clear whether “the rebels” are also using poison gas or not.  What is clear is that if they could, they would.  The only question anyone has is whether they actually COULD or not.  How are you going to stop both sides from using poison gas when both want to?  A few cruise missiles won’t change a damn thing.  And if our actions weaken one side so that the other can triumph, the winner will still hate us, oppose us, and seek to murder us, in the end, with the same virulent hatred of us they already have,
    If I could express my sentiment in Middle Eastern terms: “This is the MOTHER of all quagmires!”  We have absolutely no interest in this fight, in any way, of any sort, and we mustn’t become involved.


    Was it the plan all along? [in bold below].  President dithers, procrastinates, evolves between golf games and long walks in the garden. Good grief, we’ve got a hybrid of Chauncey Gardiner and Nathan Thurm in the WH and another very long three and a half years ahead of us.
    Deferring to Congress to authorize an attack on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad may have been the biggest gamble of Barack Obama’s presidency – and could significantly weaken the presidential office if it backfires, experts and commentators warn in exclusive interviews with Newsmax.

    Some observers are beginning to suggest the administration’s mishandling of Syria has been so severe, it may affect not only Obama’s presidency, but future presidents’ terms as well.


  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    The reason why Bush had military insufficiency issues was due to Carter and Clinton.
    So obviously Democrats are parasites on the American national power stage, but people don’t want to admit that now do they.


    Ymarsaker: Electile Dysfunction.

  • Jose

    Mike Devx said:
    It looks to me that poison gas is just another tool of warfare to the people and culture of this region.  These are not rogue regimes by their own standards, using types of weapons that their people and their type of civilization abhor!  No, rather this is merely what they ALL are willing to do to those opposed to them, including internal enemies.  If by chance they signed on to some treaty or other, I’m sure they did so with a smirk, thinking, “Prohibitions against WHAT?  We laugh!
    This makes me think about the GenevaProtocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare”.  According to Wikipedia,  “It was signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925 and entered into force on 8 February 1928. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 7 September 1929.”
    League of Nations! The Ottoman empire had only dissolved in 1922.  Also, the Hague conventions are over 100 years old (1899 and 1907). 
    As for Syria, Wikipedia states: “The modern Syrian state was established after the first World War as a French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1971.”
    Can the case seriously be made that Syria is a signatory to the Geneva convention? Or is bound to it in any way?  What about Saudi Arabia?  Or Iran? Or Israel?  Should we be surprised that these old agreements have no hold on the current regimes?

    If our Community Organizer in Chief wanted a meaningful accomplishment, He would get these agreements re-ratified by all current governments.  Realistically, they are irrelevant to the present day regimes.

  • Spartacus

    This pipeline business is fascinating.
    IF it’s true that this is the reason (or “a” reason, to be less binary about it) why Barack is so desperate to get us involved in Syria, then I have to ask…
    Does anyone remember that theory about the European oil contracts in Libya?  Supposedly, after the rebellion started in Libya, and a rebel victory seemed like a safe bet, the Europeans signed new oil contracts with the rebels at lower prices than they were getting from Qaddafi.  Then Qaddafi’s forces began to rally, and the Europeans panicked and called the world cops (i.e. the US) to safeguard their double-dealing.  Now, IF that’s true, and IF this pipeline business is true, then 100% of the wars started by Barack will likely have been about maintaining the flow of cheap petro fuels to Europe, sold to the American public as humanitarian in nature, and executed without the approval of Congress.  Hope & Change!

  • Spartacus

    Devx — I’m guessing here, but I think the reason that Iraq doesn’t work as a pipeline alternative to Syria for the Saudis and Qataris has is rooted in the fact that Iraq is now increasingly a client state of Iran, and the Sunni Arabs in the Gulf regard the Shiite Persians in Tehran as rivals.  The same is largely true of Syria, of course, but perhaps the Gulf Arabs see Assad as more of an equal to Tehran, capable of cutting his own deals, and Maliki as more of a puppet.
    I’d be highly nervous about investing lots of money in infrastructure for transporting highly volatile substances through a highly volatile part of the world by any route, but hey, that’s just me…

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I’m sure the Left’s evil goes beyond mere oil contracts. You have to wonder what they are using that money for.
    Child prostitution rings? Close, but not quite. Think more evil. You’ll be closer then.