Scanlyze

The Online Journal of Insight, Satire, Desire, Wit and Observation

Civilian Control of the Military?

This was written in response to a thread on the facebook group, The Constitution of the United States of America, titled, Do you think a President should have to serve in the military because he is Commander in Chief?

To ask, “Do you think a President should have to serve in the military because he is Commander in Chief?” is completely the wrong way of posing this question. The proper way of framing it is, “Do you think that the Commander-in-Chief should always be a civilian, elected President, in order to secure a democratic republic from military control?”

As James Madison said: “In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive, will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.” [1]

This principle of civilian control has been and remains the fundamental precept upon which the command and control of the US Armed Forces depends and from which it draws its legitimacy:

“From the birth of democracy in ancient Greece, the idea of the citizen-soldier has been the single most important factor to shape the Western way of war. In a democracy, combatants bear arms as equals, fighting to defend their ideals and way of life. They are citizens with a stake in the society they have vowed to defend. They do not fight as mercenaries, nor are they guided by coercion or allegiance to the whims of a dictatorial leader. Rather, their motivation stems from a selfless commitment to an idea that far exceeds the interests of any individual member of the society. For the armed forces officer of the United States, this ethos began with the militiamen who defended their homes, secured the frontier, and won a war of independence against the most formidable military power of that era. The American military tradition has since been governed by a strict adherence to the primacy of civilian control and, within that framework, has continued to champion the role of the citizen-soldier as the defender of the nation’s ideals.” [2]

[1] Max Farrand. 1911. Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1:465. Civilian control of the military

[2] The Armed Forces Officer. Chapter 1
The Citizen-Soldier—An American Tradition of Military Service p. 21

Copyright © 2010 Henry Edward Hardy

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14 April, 2010 Posted by | armed forces, commander-in-chief, Constitution, control, democratic, government, military, officer, politics, President, republic, scanlyze, tradition, US, USA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter to the youth of America

Next year, some of you will die. Horribly. In the war.

Not all of you. But the draft will start again, and your generation will be drenched in blood.

You will become victims, and victimizers.

You will kill, rape, pillage.

You will laugh, cry, and die calling for your mother.

Your friends will be taken away, and never return. Or their body will come back, but they won’t. Someone else will be there in their place, looking through the prison of their eyes at a world which no longer makes sense.

I went to a pancake breakfast this morning honoring the senior member of the US House of Representatives, John Dingell. The event was a fundraiser for the University of Michigan College Democrats at a local brewpub in Ann Arbor, MI. There were easily more than a hundred people there, including the mayor, state legislators, council members and a former congressman.

John Dingell is a great politician. He looks right at you (unless he wants you to vanish) and he is a very good listener. He remembers names and faces and events with great precision. His father sat in Congress before him, and he’s been there more than 50 years now.

He gave a nice speech recognizing the usefulness of the flying squads of students who helped in swing districts when the Demos swept the governorship and legislative bodies. He spoke nicely about the local officials there. He said not word one about Iraq.

Then his wife Debbie spoke. More platitudes, less substance even than John.

When the mic went back to the student MC, I said loudly Tell us about your plan to stop the war, John!

People started shushing me and saying be quiet.

I said, While we have been happily stuffing our faces and congratulating ourselves, another 8 people have died in Iraq. Two were children. That’s right, your pancakes are drenched in the blood of the children of Iraq!

Some guy was grabbing me and pulling on me and I told him Let go of me or I will call the police and ask that you be charged with assault and battery. There was a minor-to-medium uproar (which is to say, no chairs or fists flying).

Dingell got kind of red in the face and looked pissed but he came back to the mic and said I’ll answer that.

Dingell said that he had met with Bush before the war and told him to his face that the war would be a disaster, that there was no planning for the post-war situation. He voted against the war authorization. He had done all he could within the Congress against the war. But there were divisions within the Democratic caucus. He said there was no simple solution to the war. He said if you have a better idea I’d like to hear it.

I said I do have a better idea. (people shouting)

He said if I had a better idea he wanted to hear it.

I said are you [the students] going to let me speak or will you carry on like a bunch of Young Republicans?

Yes, Congressman there is a simple answer, you just don’t want to acknowledge it. Don’t vote for any more war appropriations! You must not vote for a two-year appropriation for an illegal aggressive war which was authorized based on lies, lies, propaganda, and more lies. Tell us you won’t vote to pay for war any more!

He said that Bush was the worst President of his lifetime, perhaps of all time. He said I think something to the effect that his [Bush’s] people are amateurs. (very noisy at this point much chaos)

I didn’t persist and they ended the event. Several people including one councilperson and some party officials came to thank me for what I said and a few students also said they respected my right to speak out but most of them wouldn’t meet my eye. They were all mostly wearing identical blue tee shirts which said, “Democrats make better lovers” on the front and “who ever heard of a good piece of elephant” on the back. Way to go dudes and dudesses. When I was a teenager it was about peace and love. Now its about tits and ass, apparently.

You people are so square (the students I mean, not the old radicals turned politicians) if you rubbed your head you would cut yourself on the corners. We old radicals are still trying to deal with this mess of neocons left by Reagan and Nixon, why don’t you rebel and give us a hand a bit. Having everyone look and act the same, that is not democracy, that is fascism. It is also very boring.

People think Iraq is as bad as it can get, but it isn’t, not nearly. It is not even near as bad as Korea or the Second Indochina War (what people call in the US, the Viet Nam War). The US has lost 3,135 killed in Iraq so far. In Korea or Viet Nam, that figure was over 50 thousand. And most of those dead will be you, the students, who will be enslaved by the draft and forced to become war criminals and murderers.

You must demand today that John Dingell and the rest of the US Congress stop voting money for this illegal war, or else tomorrow it will be you and your friends who will be murdering and dying in a foreign land where everyone hates you, and you hate yourself as well.

Please wake up and demand an end to funding this war before it escalates still further.

If you want to support someone, don’t fund sending them somewhere to be killed!

Continued funding for this war is both stupid and evil. It must stop now.

More Action Necessary?
Kicking Ass Ann Arbor
University of Michigan College Democrats

Oh, BTW if someone has video of the event they could send me, I’d love to post it here as well as get a better transcript of what was said rather than my approximate paraphrases above.

Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy

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17 February, 2007 Posted by | America, Ann Arbor, appropriations, breakfast, Bush, college, Congress, Constitution, democrat, democratic, Dingell, dissent, draft, essay, events, funding, fundraiser, government, House of Representatives, Iraq, media, Michigan, military, news, pancakes, peace, politics, protest, scanlyze, students, university, University of Michigan, US Congress, US Constitution, USA, war, youth | 14 Comments