Carol Platt Liebau: "Conduct Unbecoming"

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Conduct Unbecoming"

Professor Eliot Cohen points out what a poor example the day-late-dollar-short critiques of the former generals have set for the military.

He's perspicacious in pointing out:

[I]n the unhappy generals' account of Iraq there is no alternative strategy proposed, no fellow general held to account by name, scant acceptance of personal responsibility for what went awry on their watch, little repudiation of contrary statements made on active duty.

Indeed, it's always easy to criticize when there are difficulties after the fact, especially when no one can prove that an alternative course would, in fact, have yielded a better result, as Jack Kelly points out (along with the fact that at least one of the alternative suggested strategies wasn't even feasible).

As Cohen notes: "It is not the same thing as speaking candidly before Congress, telling all to civilian or military scholars collecting oral histories, or indeed writing one's own memoirs after the heat of contemporary passions has cooled, and the individuals in question have left public office."

It's likewise not the same as resigning as an act of conscience.

But what's particularly interesting is that some of the generals who are challenging the Administration don't particularly seem to appreciate being challenged themselves. Exhibit A is Anthony Zinni, whose performance on Bill Maher's show Friday night was a prime example. He was obviously annoyed at being challenged by fellow panelist IWF Chairman Heather Higgins, a woman.

It's unpleasant to make such observations about a general. But when generals enter the political fray, they submit themselves to political criticism. It's a shame for the generals and a shame for our political system.


Post a Comment

<< Home