Watching civilian reporters talk about military matters is about like me trying to talk about quantum physics, where I might be able to recite the terminology, but remain completely clueless about the concepts. It’s like I wandered over to Malcolm Pollack’s blog when he gets really engrossed in one of his many scientific topics – I read the words (having to look up most), but remain lost.
All afternoon I’ve been thinking about writing about “moral courage” and trying to put into words my disgust with this CINC and it’s in that context that President Obama completely disgusts me. I have felt for a very long time that he is not fit to command the US Armed Forces – that is my heartfelt belief. Every action he undertakes rests on his political agenda, replete with his arrogant, elitist inner-circle concocting “narratives” to spin it (lie) to the public. The endless lying may be his undoing in this Bergdahl situation, where he released some of the most dangerous Gitmo detainees in exchange for the return of what was not a “military hero”, possibly a deserter/collaborator. Still, these self-important dilettantes turned military experts, continue this sad parade of brazen mendacity. They are now military experts and military historians, cockily tossing out military phrases with abandon, of which they know nothing.
The military operates under a different code of laws called the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and after spending my entire adult life around the Army, (serving a short time on active duty, the bulk as an Army spouse), in addition to reading for years about military matters, I am not a JAG lawyer, nor will I ever pretend to be one. Bowe Bergdahl deserves to have the circumstances of his case investigated and if charged with crimes under the UCMJ, then he is entitled to legal representation and a fair trial – that much I do know.
The Army leadership owes it to every man and woman who swears an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States to investigate this situation and follow the UCMJ. Sending out Susan Rice or those twits at the State Department to lie/deflect/denigrate other soldiers who have come forward to speak of their first-hand knowledge, will not make this matter disappear – our military can not defend America if the bonds of trust between the rank and file soldiers and the top brass collapse due to moral cowardice from the top.
Gladius offered some thoughts on moral courage, which sum up this situation:
“I absolutely agree that the Army leadership should have collectively stood up and said no to the exchange — but before it happened. Now, I believe they have their hands tied in saying anything other that what Dempsey said about “may pursue an investigation.” Undue command influence has happened too often of late, when high-ranking officers order a specific investigation or a specific outcome of an investigation. I do believe Dempsey could strengthen his statement from “may pursue” to “will pursue through proper authorities”, but I doubt he can now go further. The time of courage has passed.
Physical courage is spontaneous and happens usually without meditation and pre-planning. To be sure, we soldiers can be trained to react in certain ways, but instincts of survival can be hard to overcome.
On the other hand, moral courage is deliberative, purposeful and done with full awareness of the consequences.
The reverse of both is equally true. Physical cowardice is spontaneous and done without pre-planning in most cases. Again, to be sure, we can be trained to react better to overcome our natural tendencies. On the other hand, once again, moral cowardice is deliberate, purposeful and done with full awareness. Those in leadership, in my opinion, are guilty of moral cowardice. They knew it; they embraced it; and, they were aware of the consequences. It was a gamble they took to protect their immediate position with no regard to the long time effect.”
“Our military leaders need to rediscover their moral courage and honor our traditions, our regulations, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. We need a fresh, unprejudiced 15-6 investigation (the military equivalent of a grand jury). We already know, as the military has known since the first 24 hours after Bergdahl abandoned his post, that sufficient evidence exists for a court-martial, but it’s important to do this by the numbers.”
I agree with Gladius that “moral courage is deliberative, purposeful and done with full awareness of the consequences”, but I believe there is still time for moral courage and let’s hope that someone in our top military leadership speaks out. Russ Vaughn, in an excellent piece, “A Five-Sided Kennel of Cowardice”, astutely harkened to the power of one courageous voice:
“A single, public resignation by a single honorable four-star could have stopped this executive branch arrogance in its tracks, like a kitchen light breaking up a roach-fest.”
“I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain (what I consider the most enviable of all titles) the character of an “Honest Man.”
“Let us erect a standard to which the wise and honest may repair.”