Summary: An important step in the evolution of an insurgency comes when it steps out of the shadows. When its members assert their beliefs in public — going from assertion of special circumstances to statement of specific rights. That’s necessary for it to bid for the widespread support needed to overturn the existing political regime. With the Milburn article in JFQ we may have passed that milestone. After that come alliances with powerful elements, and the compromises necessary for eventual victory. And another nail hammered into the Constitution’s coffin.
“Natura abhorret a vacuo.”
— Roman Proverb
As the American citizenry loses power (become consumers instead of citizens), other power centers will emerge. That’s life. One such contender is, as always, the military. Here is the latest salvo in the military’s bid to become an equal player in national security with elected officials: “Breaking Ranks: Dissent and the Military Professional“, Andrew R. Milburn (Lieutenant Colonel, USMC), Joint Force Quarterly, 4th Quarter 2010 — The opening tells the story:
There are circumstances under which a military officer is not only justified but also obligated to disobey a legal order. In supporting this assertion, I discuss where the tipping point lies between the military officer’s customary obligation to obey and his moral obligation to dissent. This topic defies black-and-white specificity but is nevertheless fundamental to an understanding of the military professional’s role in the execution of policy. It involves complex issues—among them, the question of balance between strategy and policy, and between military leaders and their civilian masters.
It’s provoked a range of comment:
- “A warning flare about a Joint Force Quarterly article“, Richard Kohn (Prof history, U of NC at Chapel Hill), blog of Foreign Policy, 29 September 2010
- “Breaking Ranks?“, Paul L. Yingling (Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Prof of security studies at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch), Small Wars Journal, 30 September 2010
- “Military Professionalism and Dissent“, Bernard Finel (Prof, National War College), 7 October 2010
For background on this debate, and a list of articles chronicling this widening crack in the Republic’s foundation, see Our growing domestic insurgency: revolt of the generals.