Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let the Man Do His Job

Our military goes to war with the objectives and forces that our civilian leaders provide them. That's the way it is supposed to be. So why is there a conservative complaint that Marine Lieutenant General Dunford, the likely choice to lead the Afghanistan campaign, has voiced support for the president's strategy there?

I don't quite understand this:

Insiders like Korb don't expect Dunford to make any major changes to the current NATO and U.S. strategy, which calls for building a huge Afghan national security force and handing more and more territory to them between now and the end of 2014. "This means the status is going to hold," Korb says.

But, as with most issues these days, conservatives scoffed at the pick.

"He's a lousy pick if our goal is victory, but a good pick if you're sitting in the Oval Office and want a yes man," says Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute.

What the Hell? I expect any general to support the president publicly and provide honest advice in private. If a general can't do that, they can resign and exercise their right as a private citizen to express their dissent.

I may not be happy that we have set a deadline for our operations. I understand the need to reduce troops over time and turn over fighting responsibility to Afghans. That's Counterinsurgency 101.

But Dunford's duty is to do the best he can with the objectives he has and the troops he is given for those objectives. I have no reason to think that Dunford cannot do that.

And I sure don't expect him to have established a reputation for undermining civilian leadership. I may not have much respect for the commander-in-chief, but he is the commander-in-chief.

If conservatives want to complain about President Obama's policies, feel free--it is a target-rich environment, as the expression goes. Criticism of military strategy is obviously open, too. But don't complain about the general in charge for obeying his lawful orders.

There are worse things than having a lousy commander-in-chief. Like having an officer corps that feels free to advocate its own policies against the will of civilian leadership.