Monday, November 3, 2008

Asleep at the Wheel: The US Becomes What It Wasn't (Fred Reed)

Fred Reed on today's military:

The Pentagon, methinks, is out of control. We no longer have a military in service to the state, but a state in service to the military. Few notice (I suspect) because of two ingrained habits of mind.

First, we think of the President as just that, the President, the country’s civilian governor who, oh yeah, is technically the Commander-in-Chief. “Technically,” because he isn’t really in the military and doesn’t strut about in a uniform with ribbons and feathers. He seems more a CEO than a general.

Second, we tend to think of the military as a federal department under civilian control. The Pentagon carries out policy, we believe, but doesn’t make it.

Would it were so. The military today is hardly under civilian control. Note that Congress long ago gave up its power to declare war. This is crucial. Politically it is far safer to acquiesce in a war than to declare one.

In practical terms, the checks and balances in the Constitution no longer restrain the Commander-in-Chief, and thus not the soldiery. (The Supreme Court has become a mausoleum. It might be replaced by a wax museum without anyone’s noticing.) The Pentagon is now the private army of any president who chooses so to use it.

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