Tags: ISIS | Dempsey | Obama | Army

Report Questions if Dempsey Should Quit Over Obama's ISIS Strategy

By    |   Saturday, 22 Nov 2014 06:57 PM

The Obama administration's strategy of using only airstrikes against the Islamic State is frustrating military leaders, with some experts questioning whether Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey should resign.

The four-star Army general has said repeatedly that U.S. ground forces might be necessary to defeat ISIS in Iraq, as recently as last week.

"We're certainly considering it," Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony on Nov. 13.

But the Obama administration's continued insistence that combat forces will not be used against the terrorist group led The Huffington Post to ask on Saturday: "If Dempsey, a soldier with a long and distinguished career, cannot in good conscience preside over a military campaign he feels will be ultimately doomed, should he quietly (or noisily) resign?"

Such a move strikes at the heart of Army doctrine, which states that military professionals' "principal obligation is to support the democratic institutions and policymaking processes of our government."

The code is cited in an article by Don M. Snider, a senior military ethicist who teaches at the U.S. Army War College. He is a Vietnam combat veteran who has served with both the joint chiefs and in the White House and has taught at West Point, the HuffPost reports.

The article continues by stating that "civilian lawmakers," including President Barack Obama, the nation's commander-in-chief, "seek and consider professional military advice in the context of policy deliberations.

"Army professionals properly confine their advisory role to the policymaking process and do not engage publicly in policy advocacy or dissent."

However, Snider cites the argument put forth by James Burk, a military sociologist at Texas A&M University.

He contends that "military professionals require autonomy, to include moral autonomy, to be competent actors held responsible for what they do.

"By autonomy, I mean the ability to govern or control one’s actions with some degree of freedom," Burk continued. "Autonomous action is a precondition for responsible obedience and the opposite of blind obedience."

He added that there is a "conceptual space within which military professionals exercise moral discretion."

Should that discretion lead a military official "to do what is morally wrong or to do what was explicitly not authorized," the professional could resign or otherwise speak against the administration.

Burk calls such actions "protected" because the "discretion to commit them preserves the autonomy on which the moral responsibility of the military profession depends."

If Dempsey resigned and attacked the White House for its ISIS strategy, it falls within the "protected" realm, Snider contends, and it would give the general autonomy to "profess" his beliefs based on his unique expert knowledge of the situation.

The HuffPost report notes the 2007 "Revolt of the Generals," when two dozen retired generals openly disagreed with President George W. Bush over the Iraq war, and how both former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta have recently attacked Obama's national security policies.

In all these cases, however, the attacks against Obama and Bush came after the military experts retired, the HuffPost notes.

While retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold later regretted waiting until after he stepped down to challenge the Bush administration on Iraq, the whole idea of such open dissent is not good, said Duke University political scientist Peter Feaver.

"Advocating resignation and protest like this is bad counsel and would do much to undermine healthy civil-military relations if it ever became accepted practice among senior officers," Feaver said in an article last month in Foreign Policy magazine that was cited by HuffPost.

"Indeed, for a White House that has had uneasy relations with the uniformed military, a principled, public resignation by Dempsey would detonate in the superheated political atmosphere of the capital like a nuclear warhead," according to the HuffPost.

The report concludes by raising these questions: "Are senior officers required to support policies with which they disagree? Can there be official dissent without insubordination? The question is not an easy one," the HuffPost reports. "But it persists."

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The Obama administration's strategy of using only airstrikes against the Islamic State is frustrating military leaders, with some experts questioning whether Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey should resign. The four-star Army general has said repeatedly that...
ISIS, Dempsey, Obama, Army
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2014-57-22
Saturday, 22 Nov 2014 06:57 PM
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