« Robber Baron Redux: Health Care Reform Edition | Main | I Change Shapes Just to Hide in this Place »

October 05, 2010

Comments

Milburn's argument is being used by the adherents of the Disobey Lawful Orders School to support resistance to the ending of Don't Ask/Don't Tell
Do you have a citation for that? Milburn says:
Suppose the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy with regard to homosexuals in the military is repealed and that the Service chiefs are ordered to integrate homosexuals in the same manner as were African Americans and women previously. Considering all that I have discussed with reference to the military professional's moral autonomy, could any Service chief—or subordinate unit commander— claim to be justified in dragging his feet in executing the policy? What if one did so, while the others executed the policy wholeheartedly, with consequences that proved that integration was the right thing to do? While open dissent is an act of professionalism, carrying with it an acceptance of personal responsibility, slow-rolling reflects hubris without moral courage. Its practice obfuscates rather than clarifies questions of policy and discredits the military profession.
I read this as (a) a hypothetical, thought-experiment-type example, which he is saying (b) would be dishonorable.

Thanks so much for coming back here to post -- it would be *great* if you could do it more often. Could whoever has the Mighty Powers make sure Robert's name is on the Authors list?

Congrats on the kid-launch! It's *hard* to watch them flutter off on their fuzzy little wings. I love Skype.

As ever, unintended consequences turn up.

Those who supported "disobey a legal order if you don't like it" because they thought of it in the context of the military doing things that they didn't like (e.g. wars they didn't approve of) never stopped to think that it might result in the military refusing to do things that they did approve of. Those of us who tried to tell them (some of us back in the late 60s even!) can't really be happy to have been proven correct.

But I admit that I am a bit shocked to hear that the military is actually having an open debate on the subject. I would expect Milburn, for example, to have had his fitness to serve questioned after writing something like that. Disobey an illegal order, sure. But disobey a legal order???

I read this as (a) a hypothetical, thought-experiment-type example, which he is saying (b) would be dishonorable.

What he's doing there is comparing overt refusal with "slow-rolling," appearing to carry out an order but actually delaying or sabotaging its execution, and coming down on the side of overt refusal.

Rule Of Law!
Rule Of Law!

Hey, Condoleeza Rice assigned the Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 piece in a class I took from her way back about the time the piece was published in the pdf in the link. I never forgot it.

Also there is a reason why the power of congress to raise and support armies is limited by the phrase "but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years"; the founders didn't much like standing armies.

"I never forgot it."

It's not been neglected since; I've read cites to it many dozens of times since then. Which is good.

Fine post, to which I have little to add, beyond nitpicks such as suggesting that the Romans didn't actually take shillings, and their early kings had no legions.: "It has been that way since the Roman legions--you take the King's Shilling, you obey the King's orders."

:-)

The Christianist element in the military is particularly troubling.

Don't know about the moral issue of gays in the military, but if DADT is repealed, gays will be a protected class.
As the first two women to graduate F14 school did so with failing grades, and Maj Hasan bumbled his way to Ft. Hood because none of his peers or superiors wanted to risk being accused of Islamophobia, the poor performers and the nutcases who happen to be gay will be given passes.
What does a soldier do if he complains about being hit on by a superior who's gay? Right. Be accused of homophobia.
The good soldiers who are gay will not be--the are not now--problems. But poor performers and nutcases will be getting a pass, as has happened in the past.
The problem is not the good soldiers in the protected classes, it's the losers in the protected classes being treated by a double standard that are the problem.
I have no idea what the putative disobeyers have in mind, but the threat to good order and discipline must be clear to them. How many times can a military stand having thirteen of its people killed and several dozen wounded by a nutcase who, except for his membership in a protected class, wouldn't have worn the uniform for a week?

This thing is 40 plus years in the making and I think it will take at least that long to fix. Probably longer, since we have yet to see the worst of it.

Assuming that it doesn't blow up and turn into a civil war before then, that is.

Actually, the military's "refuse to obey an UNCONSTITUTIONAL order" would be used in case someone like Obama told the military to "round up all the gun owners" or some such nonsense. The US military would refuse any such order.

chicopanther

As the first two women to graduate F14 school did so with failing grades, and Maj Hasan bumbled his way to Ft. Hood because none of his peers or superiors wanted to risk being accused of Islamophobia, the poor performers and the nutcases who happen to be gay will be given passes.

As usual, the heavy burden of being a straight white guy goes unnoticed by so many. While a brown nutcase surfs through the ranks, there's no chance whatsoever that white supremacist nutcases could ever penetrate the US military. White people being held to such a high standard and all.

Ah, the trolls have arrived.
---
TEH GAY are already in the military, so any problem with bad soldiers should already be rampant. Or do you think it is not currently a problem because they can be fired FOR being gay? And what about the n-words in uniform or the ones with a double x chromosome? Oh yes, you already mentioned them for being essentially the same trouble.
I think the military should first deal with the religious loonies. Also the neonazis training for the coming race wars, the criminals and the mentally deficient that all got passes because the wars put a damper on quality recruitment while the gays were sniffed out by the loonies with ever increasing fervour.

"It is my opinion, after 24 years of military service, from the rank of buck private to Lieutenant Colonel and after three wars, that the role of the professional officer is to obey the "orders of the President and the officers appointed over me.""

In making that observation, you appear to have glossed over the first part of the oath, which requires the serving officer to "...support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic... [and to] bear true faith and allegiance to the same..."

Surely you are not suggesting that an order from the President would supersede the Constitution? And since Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives the power to regulate the armed forces to Congress, then--by law--officers are required to conform to Congress's will as against that of the President.

Which means in turn that until Congress repeals DADT, any officer is bound to enforce it, Presidential orders to the contrary notwithstanding.

"However, it also created a separate professional military caste, with its own language, belief structure, and living on their isolated compounds separate from many of the issues that plague non-military communities."
What Army did you belong to? With 22 years in the US Army, I never once lived on a base. I lived on the economy, both CONUS and OCONUS and I lived with all the same issues that plagued (or enhanced) the non-military community. I bought houses at high prices, and low. I sent all four of my kids to the neighborhood school which was filled with non-military-family kids. I purchased most of my goods from Safeway or WalMart, not the PX or Commissary. Most of my neighbors were not military. I don't think my experience is the exception either.
We may have our own language and belief structure, but so do techies. So do doctors. So do priests. So do lawyers. So do politicians. You say that is different because those groups don't "possess nuclear missiles, tanks, machine guns and warships". I don't know a single officer who possessed any one of those things. Not even a machine gun. I'd be interested in hearing from you just how many officers you know who "possess", i.e. have the ability to use under their authority alone, any of those things.
If anyone should be feared, it's not a military officer, of whom this nation knows far more good officers than bad. It is an errant politician, for whom the "bad" column is large, ever large, and growing.

The good Colonel is talking through his hat. Maybe he took a different oath than the rest of the commissioned force. Only the enlisted oath includes obey the orders of the President and those appointed above me. That was the oath I took as a Marine Private, the one I took as an Air Force officer was solely to the Constitution. That is the one thing that has kept the US from becoming a banana republic, the military belongs to the Constitution, not the officeholders of the government (a thing I was taught in boot camp and officers training).

Of course, refusing an illegal/immoral/unconstitutional order may require "falling on your sword" but then that goes with the territory of being a leader and doing the right thing, regardless of the cost.

Glenn Reynolds linked to this post.

Look forward to more visitors.

Will the visitors belong to the male heterosexual protected class?

May we judge their competence as commentariat?

Not even a machine gun. I'd be interested in hearing from you just how many officers you know who "possess", i.e. have the ability to use under their authority alone, any of those things.

Isn't that the story of the vast majority of military coups in world history?

Use of said items in ways that exceed authorization? I mean, it's not like the applicable CinC greenlights their own usurpation by military coup, right?

David, you are aware, are you not, that the text of the DADT act specifically empowers the President to order enforcement suspended if circumstances warrant? So a Presidential order to suspend enforcement would, in fact, be a legal order.

Nice to see you back but as a favor to your child, don't take all of their stuff and put it in boxes and when they come back from school, tell them that you worked very hard to box up their stuff so would they please take a few minutes and figure out what they want keep and you'll take the rest to the dump and they wonder why they aren't appreciative.

But onto the post

Add to this that, due to misguided and short-sighted policies by many of our liberal universities, ROTC was banned from campuses and the armed forces banned from recruiting...ostensibly to show that the military would get no support from said institutions until gays and lesbians could serve openly.

Though I agree with the effect, I think historically. this is wrong. ROTC programs were banned much earlier, largely because of Vietnam. The DADT was used as a reason to continue the ban, but not the reason for initiating the ban.

Based off of my experience of the Army during the Bush years, I agree there's a demographic problem with the military. Maybe 30 years ago it was different, but it doesn't take long to realize that the military really isn't that representative of the country as a whole-Southern, rural, conservative types are much, much more likely to join our wonderful all volunteer military. Also, there seemed to be a large number of fundygelical chaplains, and don't get me started on the large number of OCS officers who got their degrees through shitty diploma mills

You would think that the US Military neither studies nor works with the Israeli military.

A rather parochial attitude if true.

But we know they do work together. Don't any in our officer corps ask questions? Make observations? If that is the case the level of incompetence is way worse that not obeying orders.

M. Simon - US Naval Nuke - about the geekiest you can get and still be on the pointy end of the spear.

Hogan:

What he's doing there is comparing overt refusal with "slow-rolling," appearing to carry out an order but actually delaying or sabotaging its execution, and coming down on the side of overt refusal.

Well, he's saying that overt refusal is more honest and honorable, yes. But I read his choice of "resistance to DADT" as a hypothetical -- he's not saying that officers are actually planning to slow-roll repeal of DADT.

"There are circumstances under which a military officer is not only justified but also obligated to disobey a legal order."

"in which some officers believe that their legally elected civilian leaders can be disobeyed if the individual officer believes the order to be "immoral."

These two statements could not be more wrong a "legal order" is just that and cannot be disobeyed by anyone in military service period! If they do then say hello to your new cell mate in Leavenworth! We cannot use moral judgments to justify breaking the law why? Well because what is and is not moral as Einstein said is relative to the observer for instance lets say an Officer was raised as a satanist and human sacrifice was ok in that culture his/her moral judgment would say it is ok to murder people instead of saving them would that Officer using their moral judgment have the right to disobey the UCMJ article prohibiting murder? I think not, as has already been stated if in your judgment an order is immoral an Officer only has one recourse RESIGN your commission!

"the first time a tank shows up on the Capitol steps and begins spraying machine gun bullets, our democracy is over."

Should that eventuality come to pass, I expect the following:

I suspect vermin Herr Jim DeMint and his ascendant cadre of anti-American Republican filth will receive a heads-up from the bulletheads to not show up for quorum as the tanks chew up the turf around the reflecting pond and arrive at the Capitol steps.

John McCain, after initially miscalculating his own sense of self-interest, will appear on the Capitol steps and attempt to persuade the Confederate traitors about the inadvisability of their tactics, and take a few aesthetic flesh wounds in the shoulders and a leg, but reappear heroically days later as the zombie troops drag the bodies of black people from the White House to be spat on by fascist FOX blondes and disfigured by right-wing talk show hosts and vermin Redmurder bloggers.

He'll proclaim that his earlier actions were an attempt to direct the tanks' fire toward the now-murdered Barney Frank's office as a show of support for the troops and to preserve the sanctity of the armed forces and the Republic, so help him Lindsay Graham.

Dismayed, nonplussed even, Log Cabin Republicans will initially fear for their future but will quickly pledge allegiance to the fascist regime when it is announced that their marginal tax rates will be sharply reduced or eliminated either through executive order or because they have been drummed out of their teaching jobs.

DADT is a bad policy and should be revoked or overturned, which ever comes first.

However, "slow rolling" sounds alot like "delay, deny, and obfuscate," which is an important skill when given dopey orders. I am willing to bet that most officers have opportunities where their best option is to try and delay until saner minds are in charge (at least in thier opinion), or at least delay until they and their soldiers are no longer involved.

I find that the best way to delay a dopey legal order is to wait for it to be in writing. There are lots of dopey verbal orders that senior leaders eventually realize can't be written down. And when it is written down, produce some data and ask for time to study before committing.

I bet that LTC (R) Mackey utilized "slow rolling" in his time for otherwise legal orders. Because sometimes that is necessary not only to protect the troops, but to protect your dopey boss who gave a thoughtless order and needed time to rethink.

Officers are leaders who require independent judgment to function. Automaton style followership is simply not in the interest of our nation or military, whether at the company level or national strategic level.

It is the collusion of independent judgment such that officers band together and act in concert that is dangerous. If an officer decided to not only delay a dopey order, but incite others to do the same, that is an insurrection that is wholly different from simply not goose stepping in line with command.

It's slightly alarming to an outsider that so many people in the US appear to be worried about the prospect of mutiny. It's not a worry shared in other advanced countries - not even, for example, in France, where the military actually did try for a coup in 1961.

To ask a blunt political question: Did the increase in open discussion of military disobedience of legal civilian orders precede or follow the election of an African-American Democratic President to replace a White, Republican President?

Just askin'.....

The result has been a very professional, well-trained, and highly
respected force that literally can dominate nearly any adversary on
the modern battlefield with ease.

Ah yes, who can forget when the US military swooped into Iraq and
dominated Iraqi insurgents with ease? Oh, wait, that never happened.
What actually happened is that American forces were so badly
outmatched by a rag tag group ex-Iraqi Army officers, local militia,
criminal gangs and a tiny smattering of foreign jihadists that they
could only bring peace to large portions of Iraq by buying off the
insurgents with lots of cash and weapons. A force that "can literally
dominate nearly any adversary" really should not need to buy off
adversaries with cash in order to pacify them.

Add to this that, due to misguided and short-sighted policies by
many of our liberal universities, ROTC was banned from campuses and
the armed forces banned from recruiting...ostensibly to show that the
military would get no support from said institutions until gays and
lesbians could serve openly.

This is a complete lie. ROTC was never banned to show the military
anything. What happened was that a lot of schools decided that all
non-school organizations that wanted to operate on campus would have
to operate by the same non-discrimination rules. That means IBM
couldn't recruit on campus unless IBM was willing to abide by the
university's non-discrimination rules. Neither could Raytheon. Neither
could any big law firms. Neither could big accounting firms or Wall St
finance companies. In the business world, companies did one of two
things: they either complied with the policies and had no trouble
recruiting, or they said "we're not going to play" and quit whining.
But the military opted for option three: crying like a baby with lots
of special pleading. That's what the US military really excels at:
whining. Remember when GITMO detainees started committing suicide?
What was the military's response? Hold a press conference and begin
whining about how evil the detainees were for fiendishly attacking the
military with their suicide attacks. The mature dignified response to
being forced off of campuses would have been to say that "regardless
of how we feel, DADT is the law, and as a consequence of DADT, our
university recruiting efforts have been somewhat hindered, just like
those of all other organizations that engage in rampant
discrimination" but whenever a military officer broaches the subject
online, all I see is more of this pathetic whining.

The result, however, has been somewhat different. Instead of
military officers coming from a wide variety of educational, social,
and religious backgrounds, we have a military caste that is
predominantly white, Southern, evangelical Protestant and staunchly
Republican.

You're asserting causality here with no evidence whatsoever. If you
weren't supposed to be someone who works in intelligence, that would
just be a sad joke, but instead it is genuinely terrifying. There are
academics who have done actual research on what forces have driven
changes in demographics and character of the military cohort; I
suggest you read some of their work rather than just mining your
fantasies.

@ Turbulence:

Have you ever been in the military?
Anytime since, oh, perhaps Vietnam? The good LTC and I, people with bona fide military experience, have pointed out the perverse demographic shifts in the military.

Experience trumps shrillness.

It's slightly alarming to an outsider that so many people in the US appear to be worried about the prospect of mutiny. It's not a worry shared in other advanced countries - not even, for example, in France, where the military actually did try for a coup in 1961.

Well, Americans have to worry about a lot of things that people in other advanced countries don't give a second thought to. More and more all the time.

WRT the "...predominantly white, Southern, evangelical Protestant and staunchly Republican" part. I know that is what Bacevich argues in The New American Militarism and I can see where his and others' impressions of this come from within military circles, but this is, I think, a reflection of the *career* military and not strictly a feature of the AVF. During the transition period in the 1970s the brass had a real fear that the military would not have enough whites and that whites would be discouraged from joining as a result. RAND has a big report on the shift to the AVF on their website if anyone is interested.

The good LTC and I, people with bona fide military experience, have pointed out the perverse demographic shifts in the military.

Unfortunately, you have not learned to read comments carefully. Less pointing and more reading would be better.

I never claimed that the military wasn't experiencing a long term shift that favored southern Christianist conservatives. In fact, I've written about that shift in other comments on this site, and I've linked to academic work that characterizes precisely those shifts. The fact that these shifts have occurred is not in question; what is in question is what has caused them. Bob just makes assumptions based on no data whatsoever rather than, you know, reading what scholars who have considered the question have written or thinking seriously about the issue.

I thought I posted a comment before I left this morning, but maybe I didn't. Trub, do you have the references you mentioned earlier? If you don't, what were the other causes that researchers have suggested for the demographic shift?

I personally think a good start to dealing with the problem is to look at breaking up the Air Force, which seems to have problems in this regard, and would be a forward looking move (also see this fun roundtable)

The AFA is far from being the only part of the armed forces that has a Christianist problem. Google Gordon Klingenschmitt, for example.

I know the AF is a favourite target of hawkish liberals (or liberals who want to appear hawkish) who embrace COIN, but hey, if you want a military geared for imperial adventures in shithole countries, go for it.

sdra

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad