Criticizing the Military: Off Limits

A politicized military leadership is a crisis. It is not something to fucking sweep under the rug with a pandering expression of patriotism. Pastor Dan’s reaction speaks for us all:

Democrats who vote against MoveOn morons! Rrraarrggghhh!!




Seriously people. And Jim Webb? What the hell are you doing on there with a yea vote? You’re supposed to be our “hammer”, our principled veteran who charges at the administration when the rest of the Dems cower and whine. Liberals don’t call this guy General Betray Us for nothing. When our military leadership ignores the facts on the ground, comes home empty handed and stops by the White House for the latest pack of lies, don’t think the difference isn’t palpable. I mean come on. He’s asking for yet more time for us to turn a corner. Like we haven’t heard that before.

But when we’ve finally got a Democrat in office, and the situation in Iraq continues deteriorating, then Democrats can reflect upon the practical wisdom of once again bowing down to Republicans and letting them control the conditions of the debate. You may think this makes you look strong and “pro-troops”. But all this vote does is fracture the Democratic power base between the rhetorically savvy, principled liberals and the cowering bipartisanship obsessed elites.

And guess who this bill hurts most of all? Yup. The troops. Because taking yet another pot shot at criticism of the President’s foul and illegal war/occupation makes it that much harder to leave.

The Democrats should follow Olberman’s rhetorical leadership on this (Crooks and Liars):

In light of President Bush’s disgraceful presser today, Keith Olbermann decided to make a Special Comment on tonight’s Countdown and wow, did he make the most of it. Olbermann blasts the president for his cowardly and un-American behavior of pimping General Petraeus as a political hack and hiding behind him to deflect criticism.

Here are a few choice quotes from the transcript:

Deliberately, premeditatedly, and virtually without precedent, you shanghaied a military man as your personal spokesman — and now you’re complaining about the outcome, and then running away from the microphone?

But a shot at General Petraeus — about whom you conveniently ignore it is you who reduced him from four-star hero to a political hack — that merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television?

Your hypocrisy is so vast, sir, that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq you could realize your dream — and keep us fighting there until the year 3000.

The line between the military and the civilian government is not to be crossed.

These careers were ended because the line between the military and the civilian is… not… to… be… crossed!

Mr. Bush, you had no right to order General Petraeus to become your front man.

And he obviously should have refused that order and resigned rather than ruin his military career.

The upshot is — and contrary it is, to the MoveOn advertisement — he betrayed himself more than he did us.

But there has been in his actions a sort of reflexive courage, some twisted vision of duty at a time of crisis. That the man doesn’t understand that serving officers cannot double as serving political ops, is not so much his fault as it is your good, exploitable, fortune.

And the stinging conclusion:

And in pimping General David Petraeus, sir, in violation of everything this country has been assiduously and vigilantly against for 220 years, you have tried to blur the gleaming radioactive demarcation between the military and the political, and to portray your party as the one associated with the military, and your opponents as the ones somehow antithetical to it.

You did it again today, sir, and you need to know how history will judge the line you just crossed.

It is a line — thankfully only the first of a series — that makes the military political, and the political, military.

It is a line which history shows is always the first one crossed when a democratic government in some other country has started down the long, slippery, suicidal slope towards a military junta.

Get back behind that line, Mr. Bush, before some of your supporters mistake your dangerous transgression, for a call to further politicize our military.

This is dangerous, this canonization of Petraeus even as he acts as Bush’s military-political foil. It represents a dire opportunity for us to go on the offensive. We missed our first chance to do so, badly, with the Senate vote. Let’s make our next chance.


9 Responses

  1. Great breakdown. I know I don’t go into it, but if anyone thinks that a military man who decides, rather than to speak the truth, to act as Bush’s political tool is not betraying his duty to the country, they are drinkin’ the kool-aid. (which military person was it that called Petraeus an “ass-kisser”? it wasn’t me, it wasn’t Liberals, and it wasn’t the heavily-laced, poisonous kool-aid. History will judge the man harshly, as it will Colin Powell, as it will every person who actually could have had a hand in getting the US out of there quicker but instead chose to align with Bush and his Neocon nightmare.

  2. I hate to do the self-pimping (don’t want to pull an O’Reilly), but I had a few choice words myself last Monday on this very subject, from a slightly different angle. This is part of a phenomenon I call the worshiping of empty uniforms.

  3. Nezua,
    And so many people are drinking that kool-aid. I hope history will judge these people harshly. But I wonder. So much progressive history has been buried over the past few centuries, who is to say what will persist a hundred years from now as fact?

    By all means sir. I think worship of the military does play heavily into this. And we’ll see more and more of it as we continue down the water slide towards complete fascism.

  4. What else is new? The government, no matter if it is red or blue fascism currently being manipulated by the FED, forbid public criticisms of their numerous wars and attacks upon the rights and property of their own citizens. But of course when crime leans in your favor, when criminal activities target the objects of YOUR scorn, when YOUR approved thugs are in power, you assume the role the republicans currently occupy.

  5. Darrin,
    To a degree, yes. But to another, no. When you look at the worst cases of paranoid censorship and worship of the military class, you are invariably looking at the right wing (at least in this countries’ history. A wider national lens does indeed spread that out). In any case, it isn’t a matter of novelty, but rather something worth opposing.

  6. Something worth opposing is quite a broad statement of late it appears.

  7. Michael D,
    And how!

  8. I disagree extremely that :

    – such a limited spectrum of left and right truly exists
    – that military worship is or has ever been exclusive to what you call the “right”.

    (would you define what “right wing” means when you speak of it?)

    WW2, WW1, The civil war, all major and catastrophic wars, were pushed for by those who are very much share a lot with you. (If I may be so presumptuous as to assume that you are a economic protectionist, a fan of the theft and subsequent redistribution of the property of peoples which is seems you are to me) Wilson, Lincoln, FDR, all people I would assume you would consider ‘left’ wing are all a bunch of blood soaked monsters. Worthy of even more scorn than Bill Clinton, the Bush’s, Reagan, Carter, and more for their globe trotting blood baths and domestic violence.

    When the word warmonger comes to mind, Bush is last on my minds list (not to say that he is slight or lesser of an evil, only that I can think of far more bloodied hands).

  9. Darrin,
    Lincoln was a Republican.

    And certainly, especially if you look at other countries, you see the military and the left joined quite closely.

    To say that FDR is worthy of scorn over Reagan and Bush is visibly detached from reality. You cannot possibly back that up coherently.

    Bush is significantly worse than any other President, period. Between him and Cheney, their sustained efforts towards perpetual war and civil rights erosion while increasing the centralized power of the executive are chilling.

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