Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lazy Sunday Blogging

I know I promised pictures yesterday, but I'm using my parents' technology, so I don't have the immediacy I'm used to. They'll be up before I leave. This morning, I'm catching up on the Rumsfeld news of the week. The NY Times today has taken the predictable tack of defining this as a civilian vs. military leadership constitutional issue. However, as I see it, this is way of defining the problem misses a lot of contemporary developments in the US military industrial complex.
First of all, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld as "civilian leaders" have circumvented basic international laws of war - with torture and spying being the most obvious examples - and have based their own argument on the idea that the President is "commander in chief" of the armed forces. In this way, the "civilian leadership" has become a kind of military dictatorship by default. It's just sort of interesting that the actual military is out-of-sync with the cabal. So, there are two interesting articles on the situation that I've read so far Greg Palast's, which says that Bush, not Rumsfeld should be the target of the generals' ire; and Thaddeus Hoffmeister's on Counterpunch, which describes a civilian meddling with matters of military planning that is parallel to Cheney's meddling with the CIA.
We have a mega-military with its own intelligence advisors, experts in the field, etc. who exist to advise elected leaders. When elected leaders ignore this advice and information and go ahead with plans not based on reality, whether for reasons of personal financial gain, ideology, or political advantage, they are behaving irresponsibly and dishonestly.
The point is still this one: something must really be going wrong if even organizations like the CIA and the US military come forward and talk to the public about abuses of power within the executive branch.
While a few of the articles I've seen this week draw a parallel between this current civilian/military conflict and the standoff between Truman and MacArthur, I'd say it's more parallel to the much less public fight between the military and Truman over the use of the atomic bomb in Japan. In that conflict, military advisors told the president that Japan was ready to surrender. Truman, who wanted to intimidate the Russians during peace negotiations at Potsdam, ignored these missives and proclaimed that beating the Japanese would otherwise cause the loss of thousands, if not millions of American lives. For a brief description of that conflict, you might want to read this article by Gar Alperovitz, for whom military estimates, including General Eisenhower's are central evidence.

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