Many of the Founding Fathers, including James Madison, the chief author of the U.S. Constitution, strongly advocated civilian control of the military to ensure a stable democracy. President Barack Obama’s decision this week to sack the top commander in Afghanistan after publication of the latter’s comments criticizing the president and his advisers is a high-profile example of this policy in action.
But a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 44 percent of U.S. voters think civilian control of the military is good for the country.
Twenty-eight percent think it’s a bad idea to have civilians with the final say over military leaders. Another 28 percent are not sure which course is best.
Forty-seven percent of voters agree with the president’s decision to remove Gen. Stanley McChrystal from his post for his insubordinate public remarks, but 36 percent disagree. Fifty percent feel the general’s public comments were inappropriate.
Fifty-seven percent of male voters think civilian control of the military is good for the country, while female voters are evenly divided over the question.
Voters age 50 and older are slightly more supportive of the principle than are those who are younger.
A plurality (44 percent) of Democrats and 50 percent of voters not affiliated with either major party believe civilian control of the military is a good idea. Republican voters are almost evenly divided over the concept.
Just prior to the president’s meeting with McChrystal, 44 percent of voters said Obama is doing a good or excellent job handling national security issues, while 36 percent rated his performance in this area as poor.
The survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters was conducted on June 23-24, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.