Editor’s Note ( Ralph Turchiano) Requested Repost from Oct 96
MELANCHOLY REUNION: A REPORT FROM THE FUTURE ON THE COLLAPSE OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
Charles J. Dunlap, Jr.
INSS Occasional Paper 11
USAF Institute for National Security Studies
US Air Force Academy, Colorado
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This paper is approved for public release by USSTRATCOM/J020; distribution is unlimited.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. is Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in history from St. Joseph’s University and a juris doctorate from Villanova University School of Law. He also is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and a distinguished graduate of the National War College. Colonel Dunlap is the author of numerous articles on legal and national security affairs. His writings have appeared in a variety of publications, including Parameters, Military Review, Joint Force Quarterly, and The National Interest. One of his papers, “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” was co-winner of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategy Essay Contest, a competition among students from all the military’s senior service schools.
Comments pertaining to this paper are invited and should be forwarded to:
Director, Institute for National Security Studies
2354 Fairchild Drive, Suite 5D33
USAF Academy, CO 80840-6258
Voice: (719) 333-2717
Fax: (719) 333-2716
Visit the home page of the Institute for National Security Studies
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary viii
The Civil-Military Environment in the Late 1990s 2
Vietnam and the Politicization of the Military 3
Nontraditional Missions and Civil-Military Relations 5
The Rise of Postmodern Militarism 10
The Emergence of Neopraetorianism 14
The New American Model of Civil-Military Relations 19
Civil-military relations, especially civilian control of the military, have always been a significant aspect of U.S. national security policy. The issue assumed even greater prominence, however, with the election of Bill Clinton as the forty-second president of the United States. President Clinton’s election signaled a number of firsts. Besides being the first Democrat to assume the presidency since Jimmy Carter, the first chief executive elected after the end of the Cold War, and the first president to “come of age” following World War II, Clinton was the first commander in chief since Franklin Roosevelt not to have served in the U.S. military. More importantly for civil-military relations, President Clinton avoided service during the Vietnam War, wrote of his sympathy for those who found themselves “loving their country but loathing the military,” and took part in demonstrations against the war in Southeast Asia.
Together with his plans to cut the defense budget, unsuccessful effort to lift the ban on gays in the military, and controversial decisions regarding the use of force in places like Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia, the military, to say the least, was skeptical about its new commander in chief. Some military members went beyond skepticism, however. President Clinton was heckled when he visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt, for instance, and one Air Force general even went so far as to ridicule the president as a “gay-loving, pot-smoking, draft-dodging womanizer” in front of 250 people at an awards banquet.
When combined with an increasing number of nontraditional (and often domestic) missions for the armed forces and the enhanced power for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (courtesy of the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act), events like those cited above led to a flurry of articles about the health of civil-military relations in the United States. Central to this literature is Colonel Charles Dunlap’s “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” In that paper, written as a letter from the future, Dunlap examined how the American people increasingly turned to the military to address the problems their elected officials seemed unable to solve. “The cumulative effect of these new responsibilities,” Dunlap wrote, “was to incorporate the military into the political process to an unprecedented degree.” The end result was a military coup, “the beginnings of which were evident in 1992,” the year Dunlap’s paper was published.
“Melancholy Reunion” picks up where “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012” left off. The year is now 2017, and two years have elapsed since the countercoup that returned the U.S. government to civilian control. The speaker, addressing the twentieth reunion of the Air University classes of 1997, reflects on the civil-military environment in the late 1990s and the lessons learned from the Coup of 2012. “Melancholy Reunion,” like Dunlap’s earlier paper, is sure to stimulate vigorous debate. It also makes an important contribution to the literature on civil-military relations and civilian control of the military. We are pleased, therefore, to publish this eleventh volume in the Occasional Paperseries of the USAF Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
About the Institute
INSS is primarily sponsored by the National Security Negotiations Division, Plans and Operations Directorate, Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Dean of the Faculty, U.S. Air Force Academy. Its other sponsors are the Assistant Chief of Staff for Air Force Intelligence, OSD Net Assessment, the Defense Special Weapons Agency (formerly the Defense Nuclear Agency), the Army Environmental Policy Institute, Army Space Command, and the
On-Site Inspection Agency. INSS’ mission is to promote national security research for the Department of Defense within the military academic community and support the Air Force national security education program. Its primary purpose is to promote research in those areas of interest to INSS’ sponsors: international security policy (especially arms control and nonproliferation/counterproliferation), Air Force planning issues, regional security policy, conflict in the information age (including the revolution in military affairs and information warfare), environmental security, and space policy. INSS coordinates and focuses outside thinking in various disciplines and across the military services to develop new ideas for defense policy making. To that end, the Institute develops topics, selects researchers from within the military academic community, and administers sponsored research. It also hosts conferences and workshops and facilitates the dissemination of information to a wide range of private and government organizations. INSS is in its fifth year of providing valuable, cost-effective research to meet the needs of its sponsors.
We appreciate your continued interest in INSS and its research products and hope you enjoy Colonel Dunlap’s “Melancholy Reunion: A Report from the Future on the Collapse of Civil-Military Relations in the United States.”
PETER L. HAYS, Lt Col, USAF
Director, USAF Institute for National Security Studies
The year is 2017. The United States has suffered not only defeats in the High-Tech War of 2007 and the Second Gulf War of 2010, but also a military coup in 2012. That coup, engineered by a highly politicized officer corps that blamed these bloody losses on “incompetent” civilian leaders, was initially welcomed by a public exasperated with elected government. Only a few years of repressive military rule had passed, however, before the countercoup in 2015. The chastened electorate placed the thoroughly disgraced armed forces under draconian civilian control.
The speaker in this essay addresses the twentieth reunion of the Air University classes of 1997, a rather melancholy event under the circumstances. He examines civil-military relations issues emerging in the 1996-1997 time frame that, with the benefit of twenty-first century hindsight, foretold the coming catastrophes.
The speaker argues that too many analysts in the 1990s wrongly concluded that the military’s acceptance of shrinking defense budgets and the imposition of social policies on the armed forces “proved” civilian control was secure. Actually, America’s still-sizable military, freed from its preoccupation with the Soviet threat, was politicizing rapidly. Still haunted by Vietnam despite the 1991 Gulf War victory, many in uniform believed that military officers needed to be much more active in the political process if “another Vietnam” was to be avoided. Eventually, skill at political infighting, not warfighting, became the mark of up-and-coming officers.
Politicization was hastened by a variety of factors, including the military’s institutional drift from warfighting to a complex array of military operations other than war. Overlooked was the fact that officers who concentrate on activities other than war eventually become something other than warriors. Such officers also displace their dedication to the warrior ethic with a cultish devotion to commerce-oriented fads like total quality management.
The ultimately unquantifiable nature of military service was somehow reduced to metrics, and this led the new-styled officer/ business executives to reject combat-oriented activities as too costly given their notion of an acceptable “bottom line.” Indeed, the Pentagon’s aversion to casualties led to a heavy reliance on unmanned systems which, in turn, eliminated the rationale (and the need) for a separate pilot-based air service, thus leading to the Air Force’s disestablishment in 2007. Risky combat operations still requiring personnel on the ground were outsourced to private corporations, a move that would prove disastrous in twenty-first century conflicts.
Just as the military’s politicization was increasing, the nation came under the spell of “postmodern militarism.” This phenomenon was not marked by overt military domination or even a societal embrace of martial virtues. Rather, it was characterized by the growing willingness of a militarily naive society to charge those in uniform with responsibilities that a democracy ought to leave to civilians.
The popular military assumed a wide variety of trendy noncombat activities ranging from drug interdiction at home to nation-building abroad, thereby leading to further politicization as the military insinuated itself into areas that were previously the exclusive province of civilian policymakers. All of this occurred as the formal institutions of civilian control–Congress and the executive branch–were losing the public’s confidence. These institutions were further weakened by partisan squabbling, and this allowed a politically savvy military to accumulate enormous political clout.
Despite its growing popularity and political power, the professional military increasingly viewed civilian society as irresponsibly chaotic, crime-ridden, and morally corrupt. The alienated military also began to view itself as a higher caste than the society it was supposed to serve.
An increasingly self-righteous military began to see reforming America as its responsibility. This philosophy, termed “neopraetorianism”by the speaker, was abetted by officers infatuated with the idea that they were national ombudsmen with unlimited portfolios as opposed to military leaders with finite responsibilities. Moreover, the armed forces failed to appreciate that it was civil society’s largess that insulated the military from the problems that burdened so many civilian communities.
Chaos and crime are the unfortunate by-products of individualism and freedom. However, it is those same qualities that fuel America’s enormously successful economy which, in turn, sustains the military. The lesson of the Coup Trials of 2016, therefore, was that officers should not be commanders in the nation’s culture wars. It is not the military’s role to remake America in its own image.
To avoid the perils of neopraetorianism, the speaker argues that a revised framework for civil-military relations should have been built along the lines of what he calls the “New American Model.” Among other things, this model contends that civil-military relations prosper when the military is focused on functions related to external warfighting. Consequently, most nontraditional, noncombat missions should be assigned to civilian government agencies or commercial enterprises.
The model’s centerpiece is the idea that effective civilian control of a large professional military in a democracy requires pervasive transparency, especially in peacetime. The necessary oversight can only occur when what the military is doing and thinking is made plain to the society it serves.
Unfortunately, opaqueness, nottransparency, was the paradigm in the 1990s. Believing that another lesson of Vietnam was the importance of perception management, the military came to regard the media and information more generally as simply things to be manipulated for its own purposes. Therefore, the model rejects, for example, the “spin doctoring” this attitude encourages. Instead, it contends that the military in a democracy should be controlled by public opinion, not the other way around. In this regard, the model maintains that a vibrant, knowledgeable, and inquisitive press is a vital and irreplaceable safeguard of civilian control.
The New American Model also argues that overclassifica-
tion–such as occurred in the 1990s with respect to powerful perception-management capabilities acquired by the military under the aegis of information warfare–dangerously undermines civil-military relations by impairing transparency.
The model provides a template for the proper role of military officers in political discourse. It agrees with Yehuda Meir’s assertion that advisory, representative, and executive functions for military officers are clearly consistent with proper civil-military relations. The model concedes, however, that charges of partisanship are likely to arise even in these areas. It insists that these charges are best mitigated by apolitical candor.
Nevertheless, candor should neverbe used to defy or subvert lawful orders, excuse disrespectful behavior, or replace the strength of an idea with the power of an officer’s position or rank. Additionally, any order to implementa decision must be authorized in accordance with properly approved and civilian-directed policy. Thus, public candor is often best expressed prior to a decision being made. The model, therefore, starts with a strong presumption that civil-military relations are best served by transparency, and that frequently means public candor.
The New American Model further urges consideration of two inverse relationships for weighing the appropriateness of public candor in a given situation. The first holds that there generally is an inverse relationship between the presumption that public discourse is appropriate and the rank and position of the speaker. That is, senior commanders are obliged to be far more circumspect than junior personnel. The second holds that there ordinarily is an inverse relationship between the presumption that public candor is appropriate and the proximity to and effect on current operations, especially those involving combat.
The model explicitly rejects “political correctness” because it replaces sound apolitical judgment with opportunistic and often self-serving pandering to popular fashion. Likewise, the model maintains that it is not the military’s role to be public cheerleaders for the politics of the president or his party. The armed forces’ loyalty to their commander in chief does not extend to allowing the military’s prestige, not to mention its physical power, to be used by any political party.
The New American Model views as impractical a return to the draft as a means of enhancing civil-military relations. Instead, it recommends comprehensive high school and college-level programs on the armed forces in general and civil-military relations more specifically. The model also does not consider greater reliance on the Guard and Reserve as the solution to civil-military relations problems, although turning most aspects of information warfare over to citizen-soldiers may further civilian control. Finally, substituting pay increases for those so-called “quality-of-life” initiatives that encourage military personnel to remain ensconced on their bases will increase the use of civilian facilities, with the concomitant benefit of reducing the military’s growing alienation from civil society.
The speaker concludes that the Air University classes of 1997 could have avoided disgrace had they paid greater attention to the proper balance of civil-military relations as they assumed senior leadership positions in the twenty-first century.
MELANCHOLY REUNION: A REPORT FROM THE FUTURE ON THE COLLAPSE OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
I’d like to start by thanking the authorities for allowing me to address this twentieth reunion of the Air University classes of 1997. As you may know, last year’s Military Control Act makes assemblages of officers, even retired ones, illegal without special permission. Since the Countercoup of 2015, the civilians want to keep a close eye on us.
Frankly, I don’t blame them. After we lost the High-Tech War of 2007 and the Second Gulf War just three years later, the coup plotters cleverly laid the groundwork for their takeover by blaming these bloody defeats on “incompetent” civilians. When General Brutus occupied the White House after the president’s mysterious death in 2012, the people welcomed it at first. But it took only a couple of years of military rule for everyone to realize how wrong they were.
Many of you may be familiar with “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” an essay by the Prisoner. The Prisoner’s letter to a war college classmate recalled U.S. civil-military relations as they existed in 1992. It also described the military’s evolution into a highly politicized organization that, ironically, couldn’t fight.
Today, I want to focus on U.S. civil-military relations as they appeared later, in the 1996-1997 time frame. With the benefit of
20-20–no, make that 2012hindsight–I’d like to talk to you about the lessons learned from the coup. All of these lessons are based on circumstances as they were over 20 years ago when you were sitting in this very auditorium about to begin your studies. What kinds of issues regarding the military’s role in American society should you have been thinking about back then?
The Civil-Military Environment in the Late 1990s
First of all, just because no one was planning a coup in 1996 didn’t justify the complacency too many analysts back then encouraged. They simplistically concluded that the military’s acceptance of shrinking defense budgets and the imposition of social policies on the armed forces “proved” that civilian control was secure.
Instead, they should have examined the unique implications of a large peacetime military during the late 1990s. Historically, the United States organized large forces to fight specific wars and quickly demobilized those forces at the end of a conflict. After World War II, the exigencies of the Cold War required maintaining a sizable peacetime defense establishment, and this probably gave birth to a highly politicized military. Because so much of the armed forces’ energy during the Cold War was absorbed by the overarching threat of a nuclear-armed Soviet Union, however, the military’s politicization didn’t present the pernicious threat then that it did in the twenty-first century.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. military’s principal raison d’êtrefor over 40 years disappeared. While it was clear the world remained a violent and dangerous place, the absence of a superpower adversary disconcerted a defense establishment still possessing enormous resources and intellectual vigor.
The armed forces also changed in an unprecedented way: they now were composed primarily of people wanting to stay in the military, rather than draftees wanting to leave at the first opportunity. Not only was the all-volunteer military undiluted by the liberalizing effect of conscription, it also was the direct descendant of the traumatized forces that lost the Vietnam War. True, the U.S. military brilliantly rebuilt itself and magnificently triumphed in the First Gulf War, but there is no question that the cycle of failure and redemption deeply affected the outlook of those in uniform.
Vietnam and the Politicization of the Military
It is difficult to overstate the influence the Vietnam War still had on civil-military relations during the last decade of the twentieth century. Robert McNamara’s duplicity, revealed in his 1995 memoir, rekindled deeply held beliefs that much of the blame for the United States’ defeat in Vietnam lay at the feet of inept and mendacious civilians. Officers at every level, therefore, believed it was necessary to become far more assertive in the political process than ever before if “another Vietnam” was to be avoided. To facilitate doing so, our war colleges gave increased emphasis to domestic politics, economics, and international relations. Of particular interest was the emphasis they placed on Clausewitzian theory.
Although historian John Keegan disagrees, Clausewitz’s assertion that war is a continuation of politics by other means still resonated in U.S. military thinking. When taken out of context, Clausewitz’s dictum became another rationale for officers to insinuate themselves into the political process.After all, if war is so intimately connected with politics, shouldn’t military officers be involved? Wasn’t that the lesson of Vietnam? Clemenceau’s adage was turned on its head: to the generals, war and the political decisions that surround it are too serious to be left to politicians.
Accordingly, hundreds of mid-level officers were placed in congressional offices to study political techniques. As should have been expected, they inevitably became entangled in partisan activities, reportedly as early as 1996. In another politicizing move, Congress turned the promotion process into a political football. Back in 1996, for example, the Senate delayed the confirmation of thousands of officers’ promotions to exact cooperation from the Defense Department for a plan to reorganize the intelligence community. Predictably, this kind of activity encouraged uniformed officers to become partisans in political battles.
Politicization occurred in other ways as well. For instance, it was widely reported that the nomination of General Joseph Hoar to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was scuttled by the protests of gay rights activists. What was his alleged offense? As the commander of Marine Corps Depot Parris Island, he enforced the homosexual exclusion policy put in place not by military officers but by the civilian leadership. This sent a message the nation would later regret: military officers should circumvent or ignore the directives of civilian superiors if they think a different course of action might be politically expedient in the future. As Colonel Harry Summers observed with respect to Vietnam-era protests, targeting the military–the executors rather than the makersof policy–politicizes the armed forces and thereby weakens civilian control.
Gay rights activists also unwittingly facilitated the coup by undermining the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). For decades, ROTC had been an important source of progressivism in the armed forces. Unfortunately, protesters succeeded in driving it from many top universities, often the very ones needed to preserve the balance of views so necessary for a professional military in a free society. By the mid-1990s, many officers privately expressed delight that there were fewer officers from the more liberal campuses to challenge their increasingly right-wing philosophy.
In addition, a new set of qualifications arose for promotion. Skill at political infighting, not traditionalwarfighting, became the mark of up-and-coming officers. Indeed, as far back as 1993, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William Crowe declared that few officers reached senior rank “without a firm grasp of international relations, congressional politics, and public affairs.” Eventually, our leaders became skilled politicians but, as we saw in the Second Gulf War, poor warfighters.
Nontraditional Missions and Civil-Military Relations
Another key source of politicization was the explosive growth of nontraditional missions in the 1990s. These ranged from drug interdiction, disaster relief, and youth programs at home to nation-building, humanitarian, and peacekeeping missions abroad.
The Prisoner critiqued this drift into nontraditional missions in his letter. What changed from 1992 to 1996, however, was the institutionalization of these missions. Armed with catchy acronyms like MOOTW, a powerful constituency arose within the ranks. Make no mistake about it, this was a basic change in orientation. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili admitted that “while we have historically focused on warfighting, our military profession is increasingly changing its focusto a complex array of military operations other than war.”
Overlooked was the fact that military officers who concentrate on activities other than war eventually become something other than warriors. An ever-increasing percentage of the shrinking officer corps “came of age” focusing not on the military arts but on decidedly nonmilitary enterprises. All of this would prove disastrous.
We learned the hard way that assigning military personnel missions like domestic drug interdiction inevitably entangles them in policy making, a political task best left to civilian authorities. Could we have seen this coming in 1996? Recall that back then a four-star Army general was retired to, along with a cadre of active-duty officers, help make domestic drug control policy.
Just as disappointment about law enforcement’s inability to stem the flow of drugs led to the military’s involvement in counterdrug efforts, a series of terror attacks resulted in a similar role in counterterrorism just a few years later. Public frustration and fear led to the Suppression of Terrorism Act of 1998. This gave the armed forces significant internal security powers, something for which the shadowy Special Operations Command had been preparing for years.
As we now well know, the trend toward nontraditional missions ultimately undermined civilian control of the military. In his classic book, The Soldier and the State, Samuel Huntington argued for “objective” civilian control. That condition, I contend, is best realized when the armed forces concentrate on professionalizing themselves through truly militaryendeavors. Apologists for nontraditional diversions gushed, rather naively in my view, about the “training” such missions were supposed to provide, as if chauffeuring Olympic athletes for a couple of months equated to a visit to the National Training Center or Nellis Air Force Base. Even more significantly, involvement in these activities perversely created a generation of military personnel much more attuned to and interested in almost anything other than the dirty but necessary business of war. We paid a terrible price for this in twenty-first century conflicts.
The etymology of this strange disinclination toward warfighting is traceable to the military’s peculiar form of post-Vietnam syndrome. Determined to avoid another quagmire, the defense establishment embraced a set of prerequisites to the use of armed force. Known as “Weinberger’s rules,” military leaders interpreted these mushy standards to, as one commentator put it, “subvert civilian controls” by effectively exercising a “veto” over virtually any operation they wanted to avoid. Despite studies to the contrary, the U.S. military became a prisoner of the notion that public support for the use of armed force inevitably erodes (a laVietnam and later Somalia), even when the number of casualties is relatively small.
Nevertheless, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell created a major controversy regarding the politicization of the military when he used Weinberger’s rules successfully to oppose early intervention in the Balkans. Though roundly criticized by many as exceeding the proper role of a serving officer, Powell set a precedent for unabashed assertiveness in the political process. Of course, military officers, aware of the horror and destructiveness of war, should approach combat operations warily. Still, a fundamental tenet of the military profession demands, as General Shalikashvili said back in 1996, “extraordinary dedication and sacrifice under the most adverse conditions.”
But the chairman was appealing to an ethos that was under attack on many flanks. Especially insidious was the assault of a new ideology known as total quality management or TQM. No one back then truly objected to teaching better management skills. But TQM and, more accurately, the corruption of its beneficial aspects became much more than that. With cultish frenzy, its devotees attempted to reduce to metrics the ultimately unquantifiable nature of combat readiness and warfighting. Somehow the performance of military functions was equated with the production of “products.”
TQM’s effect on the military’s self-concept was just as pernicious. Traditional superior-subordinate and comrade-in-arms relationships were replaced by faddish customer-supplier associations. This eventually undermined discipline as military personnel began to believe they were “empowered” to ignore orders that didn’t suit them. Furthermore, TQM’s obsession with unit self-assessments and such encouraged commanders to focus too much on subordinate-customer “satisfaction” and so-called “quality-of-life” issues. Interestingly, one expert charged that an overemphasis on quality-of-life issues led to the failure to take appropriate but unpopular security measures prior to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. Plenty of officers in the 1990s recognized the lunacy of TQM, but few were willing to confront its powerful zealots.
TQM was yet another reflection of the nefarious commercialization of the profession of arms. What is really an altruistic callingwas rapidly turning into simply a job where self-seeking opportunism was paramount. As William Pfaff wrote in January 1996,
You do not join the American army or navy today to be a warrior. You do it to learn a trade, or earn money for college, or to have a well paid retirement after 20 or 30 years. War–even a deployment like Bosnia–interferes with that. The troops resent it.
When the new military “executives” analyzed proposals for risky deployments, they quickly voiced their disapproval. Clearly, combat would be too costly in terms of “customers” and “products.” It just made no sense; any MBA could see that.
Edward Luttwak argued back in 1996 that given the military’s reluctance to risk casualties, the nation needed to redirect defense spending toward unmanned weapons systems. Similar arguments directly led to cancellation of the Air Force’s F-22 fighter in 1998. Once the “man-in-the-loop” premise was broken, the rationale for a separate air service collapsed. This became a main reason why the Air Force was the first of the military services to be disestablished and combined into the Unified Armed Forces in 2007.
Even in the twenty-first century, however, there were still times when it was necessary to send people into harm’s way. Eventually, the Pentagon’s aversion to fighting compelled the ultimate form of outsourcing: hazardous, unpopular operations were contracted out to the newly formed Violence Applications International Corporation (VAIC). For years, VAIC and its stable of retirees did the military’s dirty work, thereby allowing the armed forces the opportunity to deepen their involvement in popular domestic activities and trendy overseas enterprises. But when the Second Gulf War broke out in 2010 and the Iranian Tenth Armored Corps began crushing everything in its path, VAIC defaulted on its contract as its employees scattered. Corporate loyalty, it seems, has its limits.
The Rise of Postmodern Militarism
At the same time the military’s post-Cold War politicization was on the rise, the public’s understanding of and resistance to military influence was declining radically. Traditionally, the American people were wary of a professional military. The Founding Fathers, for instance, were well aware that it could be a source of tyranny. Eschewing standing armies, they framed a constitution that contemplated a national defense that principally relied on militias of citizen-soldiers.
Benevolent antimilitarism became a time-honored American virtue. When conflicts called millions into uniform and peacetime conscription gave millions more first-hand experience with service life, the American people had few illusions about the military. With the end of the draft, however, memories of the less attractive aspects of military service faded into nostalgia.
The youthful civilian elites who assumed power in the 1990s were wholly innocent of any genuine understanding of the powerful imperatives intrinsic to the armed forces. Moreover, these elites were not antimilitary, despite what many in uniform believed at the time. Of course, few of them considered military people their social or intellectual equals; rather, they viewed the armed forces with the kind of pretentious cordiality usually reserved for faithful servants. What they didappreciate was that the military was extraordinarily competent, and they reveled in the notion that it could do their bidding.
In actuality, both the elites andthe public were in the embrace of “postmodern militarism.” One writer back in 1994 described this phenomenon as follows:
Postmodern militarism is not marked by overt military dominance or even a societal embrace of martial values. Rather, it is characterized by a growing willingness of an increasingly militarily-naive society to charge those in uniform with responsibilities that a democracy ought to leave to civilians. It is a product of America’s deep frustration and disgust with elected government’s inability to work effectively, or to even labor honestly. The reason the military’s approval rating far exceeds that of every other institution in American society–including, significantly, the ones expected to exercise civilian control–is quite simple: it gets good things done.
Embattled politicians are ever more frequently turning to the military for quick-fixes: Can’t stop drugs? Call in the Navy. FEMA overwhelmed? Deploy the Airborne. Crime out of control? Put Guardsmen on the streets. Troubled youths? Marine role models and military boot camps. Need health care? Military medics to the rescue. Diplomats stumble again? Another Air Force mercy mission on the way. The unapologetically authoritarian military can “make the trains run on time,” but at what price?
That question was never answered; the national discussion we needed in the 1990s never took place. This was especially unfortunate because the civilian institutions that were supposed to control the military were weakening. Congress’ partisanship made it vulnerable to manipulation by politically astute military operatives who became expert at playing congressional factions against each other. The executive branch didn’t fare much better. At the beginning of the Clinton administration, for example, there were numerous reports of open contempt by military personnel for their commander in chief. Although many observers believed the initial hostility later dissipated, President Clinton’s continued vulnerability was illustrated by the uproar that followed an attempt by his lawyers to characterize him as a member of the armed forces to delay a lawsuit. Moreover, analysts were still asserting in 1996 that Clinton had not yet been able to “command” the Pentagon.
Instead, the military had become, as one commentator put it, “the most powerful individual actor in Washington politics.” Part of the reason lay with the fact that the executive and legislative branches both labored under the shadow of Vietnam. Writing in May 1996, A.J. Bacevich of Johns Hopkins University observed the following:
Thirty years later, now elected to positions of prominence, those who evaded service now truckle and fawn to demonstrate the depth of their regard for men in uni-
form. . . . The military itself is only too happy to play along. The moral leverage embedded in “the troops” . . . provides the Pentagon with enormous political clout. Senior military leaders do not hesitate to exploit that clout for their own purposes.
Among military leaders, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is most senior. By the mid-1990s it was clear, as Defense News contended, that the chairman’s “rising clout threaten[ed] civilian leaders.” With his power dramatically increased by the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act, politicization became a charge levied at every chairman. Admiral Crowe was a self-described “political animal,” and General Powell was similarly characterized.General Shalikashvili also was accused of partisanship when he challenged the views of then-Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and later voiced opposition to the Defend America Act, a cornerstone of Republican Robert Dole’s presidential campaign.
The highly politicized office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wasn’t converted into the all-powerful Military Plenipotentiary until 2005, but we were already slipping toward that in the 1990s. Although prohibited by law from acting as a commander, the chairman was engaged in the command-like function of directing adherence to joint doctrine. Likewise, the Joint Staff was behaving as if it were the military’s senior headquarters, even though U.S. law denied it executive power and prohibited it from functioning as a general staff. This consolidation of enormous authority would prove catastrophic in 2012.
All of this constituted the first inkling of a tendency within the armed forces to consider themselves above the law. Indeed, it allegedly was frustration with the “restrictions of American democracy” that led some officers to break the law during the Iran-Contra Affair.Later, there were troubling reports of Marines ignoring laws that interfered with what they viewed as their “domestic peacekeeping mission” during the Los Angeles riots of 1992. A similar lack of discipline was revealed by the investigation of the April 1996 crash of a CT-43. Senior Air Force commanders were found to be ignoring orders.
Officers had little to fear from the military justice system, however; by 1996 it was broken. To be sure, part of the fault lay with vainglorious lawyers who continually tinkered with it until it became one of the most bureaucratic and defendant-oriented criminal justice systems in the world. What we were left with was a system incapable of handling the kinds of complex, high-profile cases that can affect civil-military relations. Consider, for example, that despite literally hundreds of witnesses, the Tailhook scandal resulted in not a single conviction. Likewise, military courts held no one accountable for the April 1994 “friendly-fire” shootdown of two U.S. Army helicopters in Northern Iraq, the cost of which was 26 lives.
Worst of all was the handling of the 1993 case of an Air Force major general who publicly denounced President Clinton as a “gay loving, pot smoking, draft dodging womanizer.” This egregious violation of Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s proscription against the use of contemptuous language toward the commander in chief merely resulted in nonjudicial punishment, an administrative action reserved by law for “minor offenses.” Once that precedent was set, it is little wonder that a malignancy I call “neopraetorianism”arose.
The Emergence of Neopraetorianism
One of the greatest paradoxes of civil-military relations in the 1990s was that a disdain for American society grew within the ranks despite the military’s popularity and political “clout.” That alienation created a real gap between the armed forces and the society they served. Of course, the military had always been a “separate society” with unique customs and organization. Its warfighting mission required that. The gap that emerged in the 1990s, however, was one where the military began to regard itself as a higher caste fundamentally at odds with civil society.
As early as 1991, journalist David Wood reported that military personnel were tending to “view the chaotic civilian world with suspicion and sometimes hostility.” A 1996 Los Angeles Timesarticle noted a similar trend and quoted one servicemember’s description of civilians as “thieves, bureaucrats, no self-reliance, no integrity . . . substandard.” A May 1996 Harvard study, as well as one by a Naval War College student that same month, warned that civil-military relations were threatened by the military’s increasingly jaundiced view of civilians and its narcissistic assessment of itself.
What emerged from this growing antipathy was neopraetorianism within the military. Neopraetorianism arises when the armed forces perceive themselves not only as the protectors of what is right in civil society but also as the self-appointed and, importantly, unelectedmakers and implementers of the same. It is abetted by officers infatuated with the idea that they are national ombudsmen with unlimited portfolios, rather than military leaders with finite responsibilities. Paralleling the public’s corporate ignorance of military affairs, neopraetorianism is marked by the military’s flawed notion of its own cultural superiority and its seeming inability to grasp the merits of civil society.
Like so many problems we faced in the twenty-first century, one manifestation of neopraetorianism evolved from a well-meaning idea from a bona fide patriot. In 1996, the commandant of the Marine Corps, appalled by what he perceived as a disintegration of values, “made morality a major theme in his first year in the top post.”In doing so, he embraced a then-popular thesis of the political right that sought the “restoration” of an idealistically “moral” America–an America that, in the opinion of one expert, “never existed and never will.”
Commenting on Marine recruits, the commandant insisted that “there has got to be a transformation of [a] young man or woman from what they are in society.” Of course, this was a cruel insult to the parents who raised these men and women, especially at a time when the other services were bragging about enlisting the highest quality recruits ever. Nevertheless, it is imperative that the armed forces inculcate new troops with military skills as well as an acceptance of the authoritarianism, bellicosity, and anti-individualism necessary for survival in combat. But the commandant’s agenda wasn’t that limited. He sought to instill recruits with the values he decided were “important for the Nation.” His goal was not just a better Marine; rather, the general declared that he wanted his “legacy for the Corps to be literally a transformed American.” He added that he was “going to go to unbelievable lengths to do that.”
Where did we go wrong? Unfortunately, subsequent generals corrupted the commandant’s concept for their own purposes. We learned that whatever the propriety of a professional military setting values for its members, it is not charged to do so for society at large. We found that when active-duty generals arrogate the prerogative to tell the country which values they should embrace and use their vast resources to imposethem upon the nation, then something is deeply askew in the country’s civil-military relations.
In fact, we learned at last year’s coup trials that most of the plotters wanted to remake the nation in the armed forces’ image. History can teach us something here. In his 1994 book, Modern Tyrants, Daniel Chirot argued that “Hitler’s appeal to a disoriented German population, beset not only by financial and political chaos, but also by open manifestations of new cultural tastes and sexual mores, was that he would bring back traditional order, a simple comprehensible culture, and a clear public morality.” Chirot also noted that “military men in particular are prone to [the] delusion” that their nation’s problems can be solved by the imposition of martial values. The lesson is that generals should not be commanders in the nation’s culture wars. The military should not attempt to remake society in its own image.
The military’s self-concept also fostered neopraetorianism. Inexplicably, those in uniform seemed oblivious to their own world. Sure, the military enjoyed low crime rates, but why shouldn’t it? Unlike civil society, it had the luxury of both selecting its members and casting out even minor offenders. Moreover, it could relentlessly scrutinize its members’ personal lives and subject them to urinalysis testing, DNA examinations, and sometimes the pseudoscience of polygraphs.
Life on America’s secluded military bases wasidyllic, thanks, ironically, to the society we criticized so much. Many installations resembled the ultimate Marxist paradise: neat, rent-free homes; free utilities; subsidized shopping and day care; extensive, cost-free recreational facilities; and even government-furnished preachers. The health care system, for all its faults, still outstripped that which was available to most civilians at a similar price. Important aspects of the compensation system were a welfare queen’s dream. Need a bigger house? Just have another child. Want more money? Find a mate. All of this was supported by a huge panoply of government-funded social services that helped control problems like alcohol and child abuse.
The military looked at civil society and saw only chaos, crime, and moral decay. True, these are the unfortunate by-products of personal freedom and aggressive individualism. But it was freedom and individualism that produced the economic boom that fueled the nation’s resurgent military machine. The genius of American capitalism is its recognition that the pursuit of individual self-interest in an atmosphere of free competition ultimately can lead to the common good. A fiercely entrepreneurial spirit may be disastrous on the battlefield where a premium is placed on unity of purpose, but it is an enormously important source of innovation and progress amid the Darwinian complexities of most other human undertakings.
Before we looked too askance at civil society, we should have understood the basically undemocratic and authoritarian nature of military life. Officers find comfort in a hierarchical organization where military rank unambiguously defines their privileged place and the chain of command gives clear definition, authority, and finality to decision making. They are perplexed by the egalitarianism of civil society and uncomfortable with the uncertainty and deliberate chaos of the democratic process. Intellectual pluralism is seen as divisive and debilitating instead of creative and stimulating. Political consensus-building often is viewed as either chicanery or nefarious compromise rather than a productively inclusive technique. “Democracy is not,” as General Powell accurately observed, “an easy form of government for military professionals.”
The neopraetorians never understood that their society was a Potemkin village that depended upon the largess of civil society–the society upon which they heaped contempt and presumed to lecture about values. The despotic, albeit kindly, socialism of the armed forces may suit the peculiar needs of a professional military, but it is hardly a model for a free society. Instead of following the path of neopraetorianism, we should have built a new framework for civil-military relations, one I call the “New American Model.”
The New American Model of Civil-Military Relations
The New American Model appreciates that effective civilian control of the military, as Dr. Richard Kohn concluded, emphasizes process, and that process can and should evolve over time. That said, the model nevertheless recognizes the utility of clearly delineated rules. Accordingly, it attempts to complement its theoretical architecture with practical, specific guidance whenever possible.
The New American Model honors Huntington’s concept of objective military control, and insists that the military’s energy and resources be focused on externalwarfighting functions. The model also finds persuasive Dr. Michael Desch’s research which suggests that civil-military relations prosper under these circumstances. Those nontraditional missions that really need to be accomplished should be performed by civilian government agencies or commercial enterprises.
The centerpiece of the New American Model is the principle that effective civilian control of a large, professional military in a democracy requires pervasive transparency, especially during peacetime. The necessary oversight can occur only when what the military is thinking and doing is made plain to the society it serves. The model has faith in the people’s wisdom and, therefore, completely rejects the idea that “military and national security issues are just too complex [for the general public], and can be understood only by a select few.”
Unfortunately, opaqueness, not transparency, was the paradigm in the 1990s. As yet another legacy of the Vietnam War, the politicized U.S. military of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries became ever more deeply engaged in “perception management.” Convinced that hostile reporters harmed the war effort in Southeast Asia, buoyed by favorable public reaction to its domination of the press during the First Gulf War,and capitalizing on the media’s own negative public image, the armed forces came to regard the media and information more generally as something to be manipulated for the military’s own purposes.
The military devoted enormous energy to learning how to manipulate the media. As a measure of how far the armed forces were willing to go, consider the following 1993 statement by a military instructor: “Learning to deal with reporters is just as important as learning to kill the enemy.” “Spin control” was critical as well. An Army instructor, for instance, insisted that soldiers tell not just any story, but a “positiveArmy story.” The New American Model rejects “spin doctoring,” however. It contends that “in a democracy the military should be controlled by public opinion, not the other way around.”
The Army, in particular, aggressively sought to maintain spin control. It imposed, for example, the so-called “Ricks rule” in 1996 to counter frank, but politically incorrect, comments by its troops in Bosnia. Ultimately, discouraging candor proved to be counterproductive. A participant in a 1996 Army survey glumly reported that “telling the truth ends careers quicker than making stupid mistakes or getting caught doing something wrong.” Ironically, the Army’s success at suppressing the media during the First Gulf War planted the seed of its own demise. With the public uneducated about the Army’s capabilities, the Army was reduced to only four active divisions and followed the Air Force into disestablishment in early 2007.
In any event, the transparency the model calls for cannot exist when security classifications are overused. Secrecy, as the New York Timesnoted on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its publication of the Pentagon Papers, can be used to hide “bloat, error and corruption in the military.” In the mid-1990s, the overclassification problem arose with respect to the military’s burgeoning involvement in information warfare, particularly offensive information warfare. Military leaders coyly declined to discuss the topic, citing high security classifications. Indeed, the subject was so grotesquely overclassified that even within the armed forces and the civilian defense establishment few knew any of the particulars.
In the beginning, we all knew the reason for much of this overclassification: “rice bowls.” Information warfare was one of the few areas where military budgets were increasing, and by controlling access to these programs, organizations could control the associated funding. Furthermore, by restricting traditional “operators” from this information, members of lower-status intelligence and communications career fields could engage in Walter Mitty-like delusions and call themselves “warriors,” albeit informationwarriors.
No one disputed the need to classify some technical aspects of information warfare. However, given its openly stated aim–to “convince, confuse, or deceive enemy decision makers“–it should have been clear that the armed forces were acquiring a capability with tremendous potential to influence the domestic political process. When our military schools began discussing the use of advanced information technology to “morph” false images of enemy political leaders to mislead their publics, for instance, we should have realized the dangerous potential of this and similar technologies. The New American Model asserts that the public needs to know and approve the “who” and “what” of information warfare, leaving only the “how” secret.
The New American Model also maintains that a vibrant, knowledgeable, and inquisitive press is a vital safeguard of civilian control. Indeed, with the power of formal government structures diminished, the media became the most effective means of civilian control by the late 1990s. Thus, it was not helpful when national leaders placed part of the blame for Admiral Jeremy Boorda’s suicide on “the relentless glare of the media.” In truth, military leaders mustbe subject to this “relentless glare,” since it is virtually the only restraint they really fear.
Addressing the perils of opaqueness does not complete the New American Model’s architecture for the military’s involvement in the political discourse. The template for that construct can be found in Yehuda Meir’s Civil-Military Relations in Israel. In this 1995 book, Meir conceived of five possible roles for military officers in political affairs.
(1) Advisory: making their professional expertise available to civilians.
(2) Representative: advocating the military’s interests in intergovernmental councils.
(3) Executive: implementing government decisions.
(4) Advocacy: publicly explaining and defending government policies.
(5) Substantive: attempting to overturn the government’s military or national security policy by engaging in overt political activity.
Meir believed the first three roles are commensurate with the principles of civilian control, while the fifth presents a direct challenge to it. He considered the advocacy role a “gray area,” however, since it may lead to attempts to convince the public of the wisdom of military policies that conflict with those of the government. The trick, he wrote, is to not undermine the military’s representative role but constrain it enough so that it does not lead to exaggerated advocacy.
The New American Model agrees with much of Meir’s proposal. It further agrees that the military has no role to play in the electoral process beyond voting. Indeed, I would recommend that flag officers be prohibited from holding anypublic office for at least five years after retirement. This would reduce the temptation to engage in partisan activities to curry political favor. The model also recognizes, however, that even “advisory” discussions of national security matters can be viewed as partisan.
Indeed, it is probably impossible for military personnel who speak out on any issue to avoid charges of partisanship. Nevertheless, the New American Model values transparency enough to tolerate such allegations and urges apolitical candor as the best mitigation. The model believes the military has information, expertise, and unique insights that should be made available to the public. “Generals must be free,” Tom Donnelly asserts, “to explain what military means may reasonably accomplish.” That requires candor. Of course, as another writer put it, “candor must be used in unison with common sense, sound judgment, self-discipline, loyalty and other traits.”
Candor is always appropriate in the privatecouncils of government. The model explicitly rejects the kind of “political correctness,” for example, that reportedly led Admiral Boorda to abandon the nomination of Admiral Stanley Arthur as commander in chief of U.S. Pacific Command simply because Arthur agreed that a female pilot was no longer qualified to fly. Political correctness can greatly undermine civil-military relations because it replaces sound, apolitical judgment with opportunistic and often self-serving pandering to popular fashion.
Candor also requires a keen sense of accountability on the part of military officers. Too often, as A.J. Bacevich noted, military officers use their political popularity to “pass off to others the responsibility for failure.” This occurred, according to Bacevich, when former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin–unpopular among senior military leaders–was fired following the 1993 Ranger raid in Somalia where 18 U.S. soldiers were killed. The military allowed the public to think that Aspin’s refusal to deploy additional armor caused the disaster, when actually it was much more of a doctrine and planning failure by an arrogantly overconfident special operations community.
We nearly saw a repeat of this scenario following the Khobar Towers bombing. Demands arose for the resignation of Secretary of Defense William Perry when an Air Force general implied that failing to obtain Saudi approval to move the perimeter fence caused the tragedy. Like the Ranger raid, however, the tragedy was much more attributable to a failure of militaryjudgment concerning the nature of the threat than any ineptitude by civilian leaders.
To ensure accountability, the New American Model calls for a reinvigorated military justice system. Administrative actions, with their propensity towards politicization and stench of back-room deals, are no substitute for a public judicial process. In the context of civil-military relations, the system needs to be reformed to reserve its most severe punishments not for those who try their best and fail, but for those who seek to avoid responsibility for their actions.
The model recognizes that the most difficult issue is determining when candor should be publiclyexpressed. There are several key factors in this regard.
(1) Candor can never be used to defy or subvert direct orders. Obedience to lawful orders must be instantaneous. Parenthetically, unlawful orders must be ruthlessly exposed.
(2) Candor can never be an excuse for disrespectful behavior.
(3) Candor must never be used to replace the strength of an idea with the power of an officer’s rank or position.
(4) There is a fundamental and critical difference between candidly expressing one’s views and using government resources to try to implement them. The order to implement a decision must be properly authorized in accordance with approved policy. Thus, public candor is often best expressed priorto a decision being made.
All this having been said, the model starts with a strong presumption that civil-military relations are best served by transparency, and that frequently means public candor. Against this backdrop, the model urges consideration of two inverse relationships for weighing the appropriateness of publiccandor in a given situation.
The first is largely common sense. It generally holds that there is an inverse relationship between the presumption that public discourse is appropriate on the one hand and the rank and position of the speaker on the other. Thus, fewer restrictions should be placed on the First Amendment activities of junior personnel. Conversely, a four-star commander is obliged to be more circumspect. This goes back to the fundamental tenet of the New American Model: military officers must not employ the power of their rank or position to lend undeserved strength to their views.
The second holds that there usually is an inverse relationship between the presumption that public candor is appropriate and the proximity to and effect on ongoing operations, especially those involving combat. This would mean, for instance, that public criticism of a battle plan immediately before its execution would be inappropriate.
Of course, the two relationships can overlap. A senior field commander must not debate the orders of his commander in chief during combat, for example. This is where General MacArthur ran afoul of President Truman.
As a further illustration, consider the case of an Army colonel who was disciplined during the early stages of the 1995 Bosnia deployment, a noncombat situation, for allowing a reporter to quote him concerning his views that Croatians are racist and the deployment’s political objectives could not be achieved within the one-year time frame set by the Clinton administration. Applying the New American Model to that incident, the colonel’s public remark about the Croatians was inappropriate given the time and place it was made. His views on the one-year time frame, however, were appropriate. This is the kind of candid judgment the American public needs from its military leaders.
Accordingly, the New American Model does not maintain that the military should be public cheerleaders for the politics of the president or his party. This is wholly distinct from the question of following lawful orders. With respect to such orders, obedience must, as already noted, be instantaneous and complete. That clearly understood, it also must be appreciated that the Constitution contemplates that civilian control be a shared responsibility of the executive and legislative branches. The loyalty the armed forces owe their commander in chief does not extend to using the military’s prestige, not to mention its physical power, to support anypolitical party.
There are other important aspects of the New American Model. It recognizes that the public’s increasing naiveté about military affairs needs to be addressed. It does not, however, argue for a return to the draft. Militarily, it would not make sense. Professor Keegan noted, for instance, that the performance of Iraq’s conscripts during the First Gulf War demonstrated that draftees merely “clutter up” the modern battlefield. Thus, any increase in the public’s awareness of military affairs would be outweighed by the costs involved.
What might be helpful, however, is a comprehensive high school or college-level program on the armed forces in general and civil-military relations more specifically. We also need to teach civil-military relations as part of our professional military education. This education could be supplemented by the publication of books and articles by military officers for the general public.
The model also does not see increased reliance on the Guard and Reserve as the solution to the problems of civil-military relations. While the Guard and Reserve sometimes can support greater civilian control (turning most aspects of information warfare over to part-time soldiers, for example), the fact remains that modern warfighting, especially ground maneuver warfare, is too difficult for other than full-time soldiers to master. Consequently, military needs will dictate that most combat power remain in the active-duty force. Moreover, further integration of the Guard’s–and, to a lesser extent, the Reserve’s–unabashed politicization into the regular military would not serve the cause of civil-military relations.
The model does, however, support limiting those so-called “quality of life” initiatives that encourage military personnel to remain ensconced on their bases. Translating those benefits into pay increases will encourage greater utilization of civilian facilities, with the concomitant benefit of reducing the military’s growing alienation from the society it is supposed to serve.
As I hope you’ve come to understand, the role of the military in American society was at a crossroads in 1996. If we could go back in time, we could spend our school year discussing how we might address these issues. Despite what happened in 2012, the profession of arms is still a most noble calling. But for us, we lost our honor. If only we had another chance. If only we could go back in time. If only. . . .
back to campaign comments
1 On the former, see Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., How We Lost the High-Tech War of 2007, The Weekly Standard, January 29, 1996, at 22.
2 Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012, Parameters, Winter 1992-93, at 2.
3 According to Rear Admiral Eccles, “Civil-military relations can be seen as the interaction of a group of related systems and subsystems–social, economic, political, military, and information. . . . The relations between these systems are dynamic: each system strives to maintain its equilibrium and to control its destiny as it adapts to the actions and changes of the associated system.” See Rear Admiral Henry E. Eccles, Military Power in a Free Society(1979), at 125.
4 See, e.g., Douglas Johnson and Steven Metz, Civil-Military Relations in the United States: The State of the Debate, Washington Quarterly, Winter 1995, at 197; Mackubin Thomas Owens, Civilian Control: A National Crisis? Joint Force Quarterly, Autumn/Winter 1994-95, at 80; and Capt Edward B. Westermann, USAF, Contemporary Civil-Military Relations: Is the Republic in Danger? Airpower Journal, Summer 1995, at 74. See also Staff of Senate Committee on Armed Forces, 99th Congress, 1st Session, Defense Organization: The Need for Change (Committee Print 1985), at 45 (warning against complacency “about the apparent balance in civil-military relations”).
5 There is no universally accepted definition of civilian control of the military, but it is generally thought to include the notion that the ends of government policy are set by civilians with the means (if even that) determined by the military. The purpose of civilian control is to ensure that military interests are subordinated to those determined by civilian authority. See Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Welcome to the Junta: The Erosion of Civilian Control of the U.S. Military, 29 Wake Forest Law Review341, 343-344 (1994).
6 See generally, James F. Dunnigan and Raymond M. Macedonia, Getting It Right(1993), at 24-26.
7 See Herbert Emmerich, in Civil-Military Relations in American Life, at viii-ix (1948) (Introduction).
8 A.J. Bacevich, Civilian Control: A Useful Fiction? Joint Force Quarterly, Autumn/Winter 1994/95, at 76, 78. Cf. John M. Swomley, Jr., The Military Establishment(1964).
9 See Michael C. Desch, Soldiers, States, and Structure: Civilian Control of the Military in a Changing Security Environment(forthcoming, 1997), at 67, 69 (arguing that civilian control is enhanced where the military faces a challenging international security environment).
10 Cf. Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, To Keep the Peace, Readers Digest, January 1996, at 92-93 (“The lack of a superpower enemy, after the fall of Soviet communism, has reduced justification of military spending in the public mind”).
11 On the former, see Dunnigan and Macedonia, supra note 6. See also Al Santoli, Leading the Way(1993).
12 Robert S. McNamara, In Retrospect(1995).
13 See Bruce Palmer, The 25 Year War: America’s Military Role in Vietnam(1984), at 45-46, 201-202.
14 Owens, supranote 4, at 83.
15 Much of this is the result of Colonel Harry Summers’ brilliant Clausewitzian analysis of the Vietnam conflict. See Harry G. Summers, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War(1982).
16 John Keegan, A History of Warfare(1993).
17 “It is clear, consequently, that war is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means.” Carl Von Clausewitz, On War(Princeton University ed., 1976), at 87.
18 Properly applied, Clausewitzian theory “underlines the need and justification for civilian control of the armed forces.” See Yehuda Ben Meir, Civil-Military Relations in Israel(1995), at 187.
19 “War is too serious to be entrusted to generals,” Georges Clemenceau as quoted in The New York Times, July 19, 1944 as cited in The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations(Lewis D. Eigen and Jonathan P. Siegel, eds., 1993), at 689.
20 See Rick Maze, Do Military Officers and Politics Mix? Navy Times, July 8, 1996, at 10. According to Maze, “hundreds of military officers [are] participating in a loose-knit fellowship program.” Id.
21 House Speaker Newt Gingrich had four military officers serving in a congressional fellowship program produce a military-style report to “show why the Republicans nearly lost a June vote on their balanced budget plan.” Representative Patricia Schroeder complained that “[t]he use of military officers for partisan political activity is, in my view, totally improper.” Id. See also Were Military Aides Used Politically? New York Times, June 23, 1996, at 17.
22 Miffed Specter Holds Promotions Hostage, Washington Times, May 12, 1996, at 5.
23 See generally, David Martin, Landing the Eagle, Vanity Fair, November 1993, at 150.
24 See Summers, On Strategy, supranote 15, at 170.
25 Thomas E. Ricks, On American Soil: The Widening Gap between the U.S. Military and U.S. Society, Working Paper No. 3, Project on U.S. Post-Cold War Civil-Military Relations, John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, Harvard University, May 1996, at 11-13. Cf. Daniel Voll, A Few Good Nazis, Esquire, April 1996, at 102 (discussing extremism in the ranks).
26 Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. and David Chanoff, The Line of Fire(1993), at 23.
27 Military Operations Other Than War. See Joint Publication 3-07, Joint Doctrine for Military Operations Other Than War, 16 June 1995.
28 As quoted by John T. Correll, The Murky Edges of Mootwah, Air Force Magazine, July 1996, at 2 (emphasis added).
29 See, e.g., Carla Anne Robbins and John Fiakla, Despite Tough Words, Antiterrorism Effort in U.S. Is Still Flawed, Wall Street Journal, July 22, 1996, at 1.
30 Compare Paul H. Appleby, Civilian Control of a Department of National Defense, in Civil-Military Relations in American Life, supra note 7, at 63. “When the country comes to any severe internal crisis, it is not uncommon for some conscientious citizens to give thought–even to make plans–about a military takeover of the country to preserve order, to avert revolution, and to serve other like purposes.” Id.
31 See, e.g., Joyce Price, Black Copters over Pittsburgh? It’s Just an Exercise, Washington Times, June 6, 1996, at 1 (describing U.S. Army Special Forces “urban warfare training” conducted in a number of U.S. cities, including Pittsburgh, Detroit, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Miami).
32 Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State (1957), at 80-97. See also note 94 supra.
33 Senator Sam Nunn argued that using military personnel to chauffeur athletes would deter terrorists. See Rick Maze, Senator Criticizes the Use of Troops, Air Force Times, June 24, 1996, at 17. Cf. Robert F. Dorr, Troops Have No Business Working at the Olympics, Air Force Times, June 24, 1996, at 54.
34 Cf. Samuel P. Huntington, New Contingencies, Old Roles, Joint Force Quarterly, Autumn 1993, at 38. “A military force is fundamentally antihumanitarian: its purpose is to kill people in the most efficient way possible.” Id., at 43.
35 Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger announced the following rules at a luncheon in 1984. See, Colin Powell and Joseph E. Persico, My American Journey(1995), at 303.
(1) Commit only if our or our allies’ vital interests are at stake.
(2) If we commit, do so with all the resources necessary to win.
(3) Go in only with clear political and military objectives.
(4) Be ready to change the commitment if the objectives change, since wars rarely stand still.
(5) Only take on commitments that can gain the support of the American people and Congress.
(6) Commit U.S. forces only as a last resort.
Id. Cf. Richard K. Betts, Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crisis (1991 ed.), at 221-236 and Martin Sieff, Policy on U.S. Force Is Clarified, Washington Times, March 7, 1996, at 1,3.
36 See Charles Lane, A Soldiers Story: National Insecurity, New Republic, October 16, 1995, at 20.
37 Eric V. Lawson, Casualties and Consensus (1996). See also Charles Moskos, When Americans Accept Casualties, November 1995 (unpublished paper).
38 See, e.g., Chris Black, US Options Seen Fewer as Military Avoids Risk, Boston Globe, July 23, 1995, at 12.
39 See, e.g., Edward Luttwak, Washington’s Biggest Scandal, Commentary, May 1994, at 29 and Richard H. Kohn, Out of Control: The Crisis in Civil-Military Relations, The National Interest, Spring 1994, at 3.
40 General John M. Shalikashvili, Joint Vision 2010(1996), at 28.
41 See e.g., Bruce Brocka and M. Suzanne Brocka, Quality Management(1992).
42 Compare, HQ USAF/CC letter, subject: Key Issue Update, 15 July 1996, at 4 (“[T]he CT-43 mishap starkly pointed out the critical importance of complying with higher headquarters directives. Unfortunately, the change from Air Force regulations to instructions combined with quality initiativesmay have given some people the wrong impression about compliance with AFIs” [emphasis added]).
43 Rick Maze, The Blame Game, Air Force Times, July 22, 1996, at 6 (quoting Lt Gen Bernard Trainor, USMC [Ret.]: “There is a tendency in the military today to put too much emphasis on quality of life and comfort. This is putting troops at risk”). See also, Don G.D. Bloom, The Price of Quality, Air Force Times, August 12, 1996, at 26 (letter).
44 William Pfaff, Civilian Militarism, Military Civilians, Baltimore Sun, January 4, 1996, at 15.
45 Edward Luttwak, Post-Heroic Armies, Foreign Affairs, July/August 1996, at 33.
46 See Alexander Bevin, Future War(1995), at 41.
47 See John Mintz, “Outsourcing” Goes Right to the Front, Washington Post, December 21, 1995, at B13 (discussing the growth of outsourcing in the military).
48 The Framers were influenced by the excesses of Cromwell’s New Model Army as well as first-hand experiences with British regulars used to suppress growing dissatisfaction with English rule prior to the Revolution. See generally, Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Revolt of the Masses: Armed Civilians and the Insurrectionary Theory of the Second Amendment, 62 Tennessee Law Review643, 646-653 (1995).
49 See, e.g., Allan R. Millett, The Constitution and the Citizen-Soldier, in The United States Military under the Constitution of the United States (Richard H. Kohn, ed., 1991), at 97-115 and Dave R. Palmer, 1794: America, Its Army, and the Birth of the Nation(1994), at 263-277.
50 Harry G. Summers, Jr., A Tale of 2 Presidents: Call It Poetic Justice, Air Force Times, November 8, 1993, at 62 (“Suspicion of the military is no sin. Americans have a long and proud history of antimilitarism, and civilian control of the military is one of the foundations of American democracy”).
51 See Richard G. Miles, Those Who Fight, Those Who Decide, Newsweek, November 22, 1993, at 12.
52 See Dunlap, Welcome to the Junta: The Erosion of Civilian Control of the U.S. Military, supra note 5, at 387-390; Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., A Fallow Challenge to Civilian Control? Joint Force Quarterly, Spring 1995, at 103-104; and Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr., USA (Ret.), The New World Strategy(1995), at 198-202.
53 Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Postmodern Militarism, The National Interest, Fall 1994, at 104-105 (letter).
54 See, e.g., A.J. Bacevich, Clinton’s Military Problem–And Ours, National Review, December 13, 1993, at 36.
55 See, e.g., Bill Clinton, Military Man? Washington Times, May 23, 1996, at 16 and Clinton’s Legal Claim and Reaction, Air Force Magazine, July 1996, at 11.
56 See, e.g., Mary McGrory, Clinton’s Duty to Command the Pentagon, Washington Post, April 21, 1996.
57 Pfaff, supranote 44.
58 A.J. Bacevich, What Are Soldiers For? Chronicles, May 1996, as quoted in Wilson Quarterly, Summer 1996, at 118.
59 See Robert Holzer and Stephen C. LeSuer, JCS Chairman’s Rising Clout Threatens Civilian Leaders, Defense News, June 13-19, 1994, at 29.
60 Pub. L. No. 99-433, 100 Stat. 992 (1986) (codified as amended in scattered sections of 10 U.S.C.).
61 See, e.g., Richard H. Kohn, Out of Control: The Crisis in Civil-Military Relations, The National Interest, Spring 1994, at 3.
62 On the former, see Bryan Bender, Shalikashvili Blasts Isolationist Rhetoric of Primaries, Defense Daily, March 21, 1996, at 434. On the latter, see Bill Gertz, Shalikashvili Warns Republicans Not to Undermine Arms Reductions, Washington Times, May 23, 1996, at 13.
63 See 10 U.S.C. §152(c); Cf. Lt Gen John H. Cushman, USA (Ret.), Joint Doctrine: The Chairman’s Authority, U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, April 1995, at 48.
64 See10 U.S.C. §155(e) (“The Joint Staff shall not operate or be organized as an overall Armed Forces General Staff and shall have no executive authority”).
65 See also Kenneth W. Kemp and Charles Hudlin, Civil Supremacy Over the Military: Its Nature and Limits, Armed Forces and Society, Fall 1992, at 7, 16-19 (discussing “politically motivated disobedience” in the case of Air Force General John D. Lavelle’s secret bombing of North Vietnam).
66 Lt Col James Callard, The Changing Nature of American Democracy: Consequences for the Military, Naval War College, 21 May 1996 (unpublished thesis), at 16.
67 See Ricks, supranote 25, at 21-22.
68 Are Commanders Ignoring Orders? Air Force Times, June 24, 1996, at 1.
69 See, e.g., Keith Hutcheson, The Discipline Crisis, Armed Forces Journal, March 1996, at 40.
70 See David Hackworth, Rancor in the Ranks: The Troops vs. The President, Newsweek, June 28, 1993.
71 10 U.S.C. §888 (1988).
72 10 U.S.C. §815 (1988). See also Michael R. Gordon, General Ousted for Derisive Remarks about President, New York Times, June 19, 1993, at 19.
73 According to Meir, supra note 18, at 192, the traditional concept of praetorianism “refers to the military’s tendency to intervene in the affairs of state. The term is borrowed from the Roman guard that made and unmade emperors.” It was initially discussed by Amos Perlmutter in The Military and Politics of Modern Times (1977). Perlmutter contends:
The client of the professional soldier is clearly the state and, hence, the nation. Praetorian symptoms may occur in the professional soldier, but only when leaders of the military establishment “discover” that there is a “contradiction” between the “state” to which they have pledged loyalty, and the “regime” that has taken over.
Perlmutter, id., at 14, as quoted in Meir, supranote 18, at 13. A cardinal feature of neopraetorianism is that the contradiction is not so much in reference to any regime, rather it is between the military’s assessment of appropriate societal values and organization and that which they perceive as existing in society as a whole.
74 See Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 743 (1974) (the military is a “separate specialized society separate from civilian society”). Arthur Hadley labeled the separation the “Great Divorce” in Straw Giant(1986), at 22.
75 See generally, Ricks, supranote 25.
76 David Wood, Duty, Honor, Isolation: Military More and More a Force Unto Itself, Star Ledger(Newark, NJ), April 21, 1991, at 1.
77 Art Pine, U.S. Military Highly Rated, but Strains Begin to Show, Los Angeles Times(Wash. ed.), March 19, 1996, at 1.
78 See, e.g., Ricks, supra note 25 and Callard, supranote 66, at 46.
79 See Marines Plan Values Training, Omaha World Herald, July 6, 1996, at 6 (citing Associated Press report).
80 See, e.g., Patricia Edmonds and Ann Oldenberg, Chasing the Values Vote, USA Today, at 5A (discussing “[w]hy Americans are more upset about values than at any time in modern history”).
81 See Vince Passaro, Dragon Fiction, Harper’s Magazine, September 1996, at 64, 68. In reviewing the emerging genre of “Christian Thrillers,” Passaro says:
It doesn’t take you long to figure out, reading . . . evangelical Christian writers, that the obsession with public order, public morality, codes, rules, consensus, and sin are American political ideas, religious in origin but not in current application. The Christianity of the evangelical right is deeply rooted in a political nostalgia, a drive to restore an America seemingly lost. Of course, what this America has been lost to is reality; it never existed and never will, but since the combined landslide votes cast for Richard Nixon and George Wallace in 1968, this never-America has been the central idea driving our political life.
Id. Compare, David T. Courtwright, Violence in America, American Heritage, September 1996, at 36 (relating the similarities of nineteenth-century crime on the frontier with current crime in the inner city).
82 General Krulak Warns of “Lack of Values” in Society, National Security Law Report(ABA, Washington, D.C.) April 1996, at 9, 10.
83 See, e.g., Smarter than Ever, Air Force Times, July 22, 1996, at 12 (discussing the rising education level of enlisted personnel). Additionally, a recent national survey revealed that teenagers’ attitudes toward moral and social values are much more conventional than widely believed. See Dianne Hales, How Teenagers See Things, Parade Magazine, August 18, 1996, at 4.
84 Supranote 82, at 10.
86 See Marines Plan Values Training, supranote 79.
87 Daniel Chirot, Modern Tyrants(1994), at 417.
89 The rate of heavy drinkers in the military is more than 50 percent above that of civilians, a rate that has remained unchanged for over 15 years despite extensive substance abuse programs. See Nolan Walters, Today, A Good Soldier is a Sober Soldier, in the Military’s Eyes, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 26, 1996, at B1.
90 James Q. Wilson, A Rhythm to the Madness, Time, August 23, 1993, at 31.
91 Charles E. Merriam explains:
[T]he military principle and the democratic principle stand in direct opposition to each other. The military hierarchy involves authority from the top down, while the democratic systems are based on the consent of the governed from the grass roots up. The military principle develops the idea of discipline and unquestioning obedience. Democratic political society is based upon the consent of the governed, freely given.
Charles E. Merriam, Security Without Militarism: Preserving Civilian Control in American Political Institutions, in Civil-Military Relations in American Life(Jerome G. Kerwin, ed., 1948), at 148 (citing Quincy Wright).
92 Secretary of the Air Force Policy Letter, Dealing with Democracy(1991), at 4.
93 See Kohn, supranote 61.
94 Professor Huntington restated his concept of objective civilian control in the February 1996 issue of Current. Specifically, he said that objective civilian control involves:
1) a high level of military professionalism and recognition by military officers of the limits of their professional competence; 2) the effective subordination of the military to the civilian political leaders who make the basic decisions on foreign and military policy; 3) the recognition and acceptance that leadership of an area of professional competence and autonomy for the military; and 4) as a result, the minimization of military intervention in politics and of political intervention in the military.
Samuel P. Huntington, Democracy and Armed Forces, Current, February1996,at 17.
95 Desch, supranote 9.
96 Compare Professor Eliot A. Cohen. “Civilian control also means making sure that in an age of rapid technological change, the services remain intellectually open, that thinkers do not suffer for taking time out to reflect on their profession and speak out about it” (Emphasis added). Eliot A. Cohen, Beyond “Bottom Up,” National Review, November 15, 1993, at 40, 43.
97 See Roger Charles, It’s a War for Soul of U.S. Military, Baltimore Sun, June 2, 1996, at 1F.
98 William P. Lawrence and Frank A. Aukofer, America’s Team: The Odd Couple–A Report on the Relationship Between the Media and the Military(1995), at viii.
99 See Charles C. Moskos with Thomas E. Ricks, Reporting War When There Is No War, Cantigney Conference Series Special Report, Northwestern University (1996), at 8.
100 See, e.g., James Fallows, Why Americans Hate the Media, Atlantic, February 1996, at 45.
101 As quoted by Chris Murray in Troops Learn How to Deal with Shelling from Reporters, Air Force Times, June 7, 1993, at 28.
102 See Callard, supra note 66, at 120.
104 See Bill Gertz, Pentagon Tells Reporters in Bosnia Soldiers’ OK Needed Before Quotes, Washington Times, May 9, 1996, at 4.
105 See Report Shows Distrust Prevalent within the Army, Washington Times, May 30, 1996, at 4.
106 “The Army effectively gave up an opportunity to publicize its operations during the Gulf War when it effectively blacked out coverage of its biggest triumph since World War II.” See Moskos, supra note 99, at 41 (citing John J. Fialka, Hotel Warriors: Covering the Gulf War).
107 Despite an executive order aimed at reducing the amount of classified material, the U.S. government’s $2 billion secrecy system was, by 1996, classifying over six million documents annually. See Martin Faga Describes Work of Government Secrecy Commission, National Security Law Newsletter(American Bar Association), April 1996, at 7, 11.
108 Max Frankel, Top Secret, New York Times Magazine, June 16, 1996, at 20.
109 A rice bowl is a military colloquialism that indicates an inflexible allegiance to a project motivated by personal interest.
110 See U.S. Military Foresees Increase in Spending, Defense News, December 4-10, 1995, at 16 (“U.S. military spending on information warfare [IW] technologies is projected to increase over the next decade”).
111 See Joint Vision 2010, supranote 40.
112 See Peter Grier, Information Warfare, Air Force Magazine, March 1995, at 34, 35 (quoting Professor Thomas Czerwinski of the School of Information Warfare at the National Defense University).
113 Daniel Schorr, Too Many Rushed to Judgment On Navy Leader’s Suicide, Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 1996, at 19 (quoting Hillary Rodham Clinton). The reporter who broke the story on Admiral Boorda was later fired. See Howard Kurtz, Reporter Who Broke Story On Adm. Boorda Is Fired, Washington Post, July 25, 1996, at 11.
114 Compare Moskos, supra note 99, at 11(“Dan Rather, located in Bosnia, asked an Army commander, ‘What is your greatest fear?’ The commander replied, ‘Saying the wrong thing to the media'”).
115 See Meir, supranote 18, at 25.
118 See, e.g., Navy Personnel in San Diego Barred from Partisan Events, Baltimore Sun, August 8, 1996, at 10 (reporting how military rules prohibiting participation in partisan political activities will severely limit activities by naval personnel at the Republican National Convention in San Diego).
119 The context is as follows:
Most importantly, the long-term health of the American civil-military relationship will depend on a recognition of the dual nature of war. Battlefield means give war its grammar, said Clausewitz, but politics supplies the logic, the ends. Thus, generals must be free to explain what military means may reasonably accomplish(emphasis added).
Thomas Donnelly, Post-Modern Statesmen, Post-Modern Soldiers(1995) (unpublished paper), at 7-8.
120 Mike Galloucis, Can You Be Candid in the Military? Air Force Times, April 1, 1996, at 33.
121 See generally Rowan Scarborough, Webb Keelhauls Navy for Abandoning Its Men, Washington Times, April 26, 1996, at 1.
122 Bacevich, supranote 52.
124 See generally David H. Hackworth, “Naked” Mission, Newsweek, August 12, 1996, at 68and What Went Wrong in Somalia? U.S. News & World Report, October 18, 1993, at 33.
125 See Joyce Price, Specter Demands Change at Pentagon, Washington Times, July 1, 1996, at 1. Cf. Douglas Mackinnon, Clinton Enshrined in the Pentagon, Washington Times, March 23, 1996, at C1 (alleging that even before the Khobar bombing the military “had lost all respect” for Secretary Perry). See also John Fialka, Defense Chief Perry Faces a Grilling as Congress Looks for Answers in Saudi Arabia Bomb Attack, Wall Street Journal, July 9, 1996, at 1, 20.
126 See John Mintz and R. Jeffrey Smith, Military Underestimated Terrorists, Perry Says, Washington Post, July 10, 1996, at 1. See also David H. Hackworth, Saudi Blast Shows What’s Wrong, Air Force Times, August 12, 1996, at 54 (arguing that “[m]ilitary leaders are again circling the wagons as they go into an it-wasn’t-my-fault-mode and pass the buck”).
127 Seven Careers Damaged in Black Hawk Review Action, Air Force Magazine, October 1995, at 16.
128 See generally Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., The Military Justice System and Command Accountability, Military Review, February 1985, at 45.
129 See generally Roy K. Flint, The Truman-MacArthur Conflict: Dilemmas of Civil-Military Relations in the Nuclear Age, in The United States Military Under the Constitution of the United States1789-1989 (Richard H. Kohn, ed., 1991), at 223.
130 See Effie Bathen, U.S. Colonel Under Probe for Alleged Remarks, European Stars and Stripes, December 29, 1995, at 1. Cf. Hello, General? War Isn’t Heck, Chicago Tribune, December 30, 1995, at 22 (criticizing the recommended disciplinary action).
131 See Kohn, supranote 61, at 7.
132 John Keegan, The Warrior’s Code of No Surrender, U.S. News and World Report, January 23, 1995, at 47.
133 See Callard, supranote 66, at 120.
134 See Lloyd J. Matthews, Censorship and Professional Writing in the Army Today, Army, November 1995, at 11.
135 See, e.g., Jonathan S. Landay, Pentagon Debates Role of US Citizen Soldiers in Combat Overseas, Christian Science Monitor, July 26,1996, at 3 (citing Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution contending that Guard ground units cannot be made combat-ready quickly).
136 See Landay, id. (discussing Guard’s “massive political clout”).
back to campaigncomments