The military officer corps is rumbling with dissatisfaction and dissent, and there are suggestions from some that if officers disagree with policy decisions by Congress and the White House, they should vigorously resist.
Officers have a moral responsibility, some argue, to sway a policy debate by going public with their objections or leaking information to the media, and even to sabotage policy decisions by deliberate foot-dragging.
This could spell trouble ahead as Washington grapples with at least two highly contentious issues: changing the policy on gays and lesbians in the military, and extricating U.S. forces from Afghanistan. In both cases, senior officers already have disagreed sharply and publicly with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama, and in some cases officers have leaked documents to bolster their case.
“The military officer belongs to a profession upon whose members are conferred great responsibility, a code of ethics, and an oath of office. These grant him moral autonomy and obligate him to disobey an order he deems immoral,” writes Marine Lt. Col. Andrew R. Milburn in Joint Forces Quarterly, an official journal published by the National Defense University under the aegis of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
That is especially true if his civilian leaders are incompetent, writes Milburn, who currently is assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command in Stuttgart, Germany.
“When the results of bad decision-making are wasted lives and damage to the Nation; when the customary checks laid down in the Constitution — the electoral voice of the people, Congress, or the Supreme Court — are powerless to act in time; and when the military professional alone is in a position to prevent calamity, it makes little sense to argue that he should not exercise his discretion,” Milburn writes.
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Now, there is no sense of any direct coup type of trend afoot in all this so much as an accelerating trend to the militarization of government and resigned acceptance by the Read more