On HBO’s Bill Maher show, Col. Larry Wilkerson, Gen. Colin Powell’s aide when he was Secretary of State, talked about the dangers of Bush’s use of the military. Wilkerson cited a column by Bruce Ackerman in the September 5 Financial Times.

Ackerman says “nobody is noticing the threat to civilian control” of the military. “Despite the president’s grandiose pretentions as commander-in-chief, the future of the Iraq war is up to Gen. Patraeus.” As a contrast, Ackerman cites Harry Truman, who fired Gen. MacArthur, rather than have McArthur decide how the Korean War would be fought. He says that as Bush sends Petraeus up to Congress on the 9/11 anniversary, “it is now up to a military man to defend the principle of civilian control.”

If you are cynical, you think:
1) Bush is too cowardly to face Congress himself and call for continuing the war; so, he sends Patraeus, dressed in his uniform, like Reagan sent up Ollie North to defend Iran-Contra; and
2) Bush has chosen Patraeus because he can manipulate Patraeus like he and Rumsfeld did Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs Myers and Pace.

It’s a real problem as Maher may have unintentionally illustrated by one of his questions to Col. Wilkerson: “Why is the military so loyal to Bush?” Think of the alternative! What if the military were not loyal to Bush? Would we have a coup? We had better hope the military is loyal, but that is one reason why they should be insulated from the politics of declaring war.

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