No Caesars for America

The suggestion, so popular right now among many Republicans (not to mention much of the media’s chattering elite), that it’s somehow offensive or even unpatriotic to criticize a military officer during time of war isn’t just wrong.  It’s also un-American.  General Petraeus doesn’t get to decide whether we will remain militarily engaged in the political/cultural swamp of Iraq.  Ultimately, we the people decide that.  And to the extent he puts himself forward as an advocate for a continued US military presence there, his opinions become fair game like anyone else’s 

Notwithstanding the title of William Manchester’s book on Douglas MacArthur, we don’t do Caesars in America.

As the increasingly indispensable Glenn Greenwald notes:

In military dictatorships, War Generals have the right to demand that their claims about war be blindly accepted and believed, and that is the unquestioning mentality which Rudy Giuliani embraces and believes we should accord Gen. Petraeus (even in the face of a long history of highly dubious and inaccurate claims about the war) — “Hillary Clinton has no right to be attacking the integrity of an American general who has put his life at risk for this country,” Giuliani decreed. But most Americans, rather obviously, subject the claims of our military leaders to skepticism and scrutiny — the only rational course of action after being told for four straight years that the most disastrous war in American history was going swimmingly.

“War,” as Karl von Clausewitz famously said, “is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means.”  Are citizens of a democratic republic supposed to take dictation from military commanders on this most important of political issues?  Didn’t Harry Truman put that one to rest by establishing that even MacArthur himself was answerable to the people’s elected representatives?

Hypocrisy has long been the stock-in-trade of the modern Republican Party.  But this is a particularly dangerous version, since it cuts to the very heart of what it means to be a citizen of a free country.  Thankfully, the American people — who have so often been out in front of “elite” opinion on Iraq — show every sign of seeing the current blather for what it is.

So unlike the neocons, who roam the globe looking to impose democracy on others, let me just say: God bless the version we have right here in America, and may it promptly bring our soldiers home.

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9 Responses to “No Caesars for America”

  1. Larkrise Says:

    The Repugnant Republicans continue to practice hypocrisy in its most venemous and disgusting form. They are all indignant and mortified that General Petraeus is being criticized for essentially cherry-picking data and spinning the situation in Iraq. One would think, to hear the Repugnant version, that some god has been blasphemed by mere humans. Of course, we mere humans are paying the good General’s salary, and should expect him to tell the unvarnished truth, since thousands of lives are at stake. I would say that Petraeus added several layers of varnish, hoping to hide the bloodshed under the shine. The Repugnants seem to have completely forgotten the smear campaign they ran against a decorated soldier, John Kerry. He was running for the office of President of the United States; but that did not stop them from manufacturing mud and slinging it far and wide. It was one of their Darling Rove’s nastiest moments. Bush and Cheney were nowhere to be seen in Vietnam. They let others do the grunt work, while they hid behind Pappy and deferrments. They know nothing of battle and nothing of honor. General Petraeus is no saint. The best I can give him, is that he wants the military to maintain its honor as a fighting force, and has taken on the job in Iraq to accomplish that. Sadly, I do not buy that as his only motivation. Others, who have worked with him, call him a Brown Nose. (I’m being nice here.) Maybe he is, maybe he isnt. However, if you jump into the wallow with pigs, you’re bound to get dirty. The Republicans have nothing to commend them at this point, so they shout “Foul!”, when, in fact, they are the one’s who consistently play rough and nasty, talking trash 24/7.

  2. Chuck Says:

    Didn’t Truman go to war against Korea without a congressional declaration of war? Didn’t that make it unconstitutional? Were the “people’s elected representatives” consulted? Did they give their consent?

    Yes! I’m in a bad mood!

  3. Says:

    Message to Gen. Petraeus: There are No Caesars in America…

    Hypocrisy has long been the stock-in-trade of the modern Republican Party. But this is a particularly dangerous version, since it cuts to the very heart of what it means to be a citizen of a free country….

  4. alwayshope Says:

    As usual, Larkrise nailed it. How dare these swiftboaters complain about impuning the honor of a decorated soldier! Their hypocrisy is astounding.

  5. Larry the Red Says:

    Fortunately, the swiftboating routine is apparently becoming less and less effective as well. The Petraeus/Crocker/Shrub show didn’t budge overall public opinion about Iraq one bit. Polls showed a majority expected Petraeus to spout the party line, which is of course exactly what he did. That show has jumped the shark, as they say, and there’s nothing these hypocrites can say or do that’s going to change that.

  6. chichigato Says:

    I think it important not to assume that all Republican supporters are evil, stupid, self-satisfied, or mindless supporters of pre-emptive war and suspension of civil liberties. There are many — perhaps too many — Democrats and others to the left of the Rs who are not good people, not smart voters, not supporters of true freedom as exemplified in the Bill of Rights and etc. The country seems more divided between those who espouse viwes that are fascistic and jingoistic in nature and those who believe in a society based on political and economic equality and peaceful relations between nations. General Petraeus is an articulate spokesman for the former group and exemplifies Lod Acton’s view that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The fault lies not with him or the Rs or even Bush/Cheney but in ourselves for electing the spineless legislators who are interested only in the power and perks that come with their office. They will do nothing to put their new-found power at risk.

  7. fdarbe Says:

    The US went to war under UNSC Resolution 82, calling for, all hostilities to end and North Korea to withdraw to the 38th Parallel; a U.N. Commission on Korea to be formed to monitor the situation and report to the Security Council; all U.N. members to support the United Nations in achieving this, and refrain from providing assistance to the North Korean authorities.

    When a treaty is approved by Congress, that treaty can call for the US to go to war under certain conditions. It creates a trigger for war. Since our membership in the UN was approved by the Senate, a call to war by the UN is constitutional.

    What I find amazing is that these people allow Admiral Fallon to call General Petreaus an “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” as reported by Gareth Porter in the IPS. I mean, the nerve of Admiral Fallon belittleing America’s Ceaser. Doesn’t he know that Petreaus is going to run for President in 2012?

  8. Chuck Says:


    Thanks for the info. That’s something I hadn’t considered. I’m not very well informed about all those SC resolutions & how that might affect congressional oversight.

    I’m still in a bad mood though.

  9. richl Says:


    Stay out of the garage and maybe you’ll feel better.

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