National command

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The recent dustup over the call by a handful of generals for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's resignation has had its short life in the news media, and Rumsfeld is still overseeing the U.S. military -- as he should, until President Bush's term ends or the president decides a change is needed.

Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the president, not the whim of unhappy generals who have described Rumsfeld as curt, dismissive and abusive.

The generals also seem to be overlooking the constitutional and historic role of civilian leadership of the U.S. military. The president is commander-in-chief by virtue of his election. For more than two centuries this command has never been challenged by those in uniform. In addition to a civilian leader, the U.S. military is subjected to oversight and funding by the all-civilian Congress -- many of whom have served with distinction in our nation's military.

The real issue, as with most of the recent media blowouts, is disagreement over the president's course in fighting the war on terrorism and his handling of the war in Iraq. If any general has pertinent information that would untie this Gordian knot, he should be giving advice to the commander-in-chief, not calling for showcase resignations.

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