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In A Democracy, Politics and the Army Don?t Mix

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  • In A Democracy, Politics and the Army Don?t Mix

    This week political silliness hit a new high, or low, depending on your point of view, and it wouldn’t be worth commenting on here except it involves the armed forces of the United States of America. A couple days ago an Army lieutenant colonel refused overseas deployment because he does not believe that President Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States.

    I’m not going to even get into how profoundly stupid the “birther” argument is, or suggest that the actions of Lieutenant Colonel Terry Larkin in any way constitute the tip of some sort of iceberg of seething political illiteracy in the military which constitutes a serious threat to discipline. What I will suggest is that it does raise the issue of politics in a military which is subordinate to civilian control. It’s not an easy issue. Citizen soldiers are citizens as well as soldiers, and citizenship in a democracy is political in the best sense of the word. Human beings cannot simply compartmentalize their lives into the soldier part and the citizen part, and yet on a certain level they have to try.

    Here’s a link to a thoughtful column on the subject, written by a serving Army officer and West Point instructor, which addresses this very issue.


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