Abu Muqawama: Breaking Down the Barriers Between the U.S. and Its Military

Abu Muqawama: Breaking Down the Barriers Between the U.S. and Its Military

Last week, I made the argument that the crisis in civil-military relations in the United States is not actually much of a crisis after all. By any reasonable measure, civil-military relations in the United States are actually remarkably healthy. This week, though, I will highlight those areas where there are problems -- and propose ways forward.

To begin, both political parties have contributed to the problems the United States faces with respect to civil-military relations, as have both the U.S. military and the civilians it serves. In other words, all sides deserve some of the blame for several disturbing trends.

Beginning with the Democratic Party, the recent resignation of retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration from his post as ambassador to Kenya has thrown a spotlight on the degree to which the Obama campaign, in 2008, was eager to surround itself with veterans and especially retired general officers in order to provide what one White House aide described as "validation." This tendency of both political parties -- but especially Democrats, who even after the George W. Bush years still feel they are somehow weaker than Republicans on national security issues -- to dragoon retired general officers into service as campaign props is inappropriate. It politicizes the general officer corps, and these retired general officers themselves bear equal responsibility for allowing themselves to be exploited in this way.

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