Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Military's Freedom of Speech vs. Political Involvement: Easy Rules of the Road

Active Duty Military: One Simple Rule
(After service like any other American)

What the Country Should Do
(including Donald Trump)

Somewhat timely subject: Is the military being dragged into the political race? If so, how, but more importantly, what is the long-term impact, if any?

For example, Chairman, JCS, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford recently reminded current senior officers (those still on active duty) to remain apolitical so that the next Commander-in-Chief (CINC) has the trust and the confidence that the military in his own words: “… is completely loyal and completely prepared to do what must be done. Importantly, as an institution, the American people cannot be looking at us as a special-interest group or a partisan organization. I will exercise my right to vote, but no one knows the lever I pull.”

(My insert: I totally agree with that statement and I believe it still applies across the board at least from my view and experience and watchful eyes and ears over the years).

Gen. Martin Dempsey (more from him here) and others, including Duke University military historian Peter Feaver, all acknowledge that political participation by retired generals and admirals is not new.

For example: Army Five-Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a Republican, is still the most-recent former General Officer to be elected president although Retired Army General Wesley Clark ran for the White House as a Democrat in 2004. Then Retired Army General Colin Powell served as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, and he had been seen as a prospective presidential candidate in the past. So all that is not new.

However, (now that infamous however or but): However, the difference many critics argue is that when Generals run for office, they become politicians and are held accountable by the public.

In the current cases we see and hear today, retired officers are simply using their military status to endorse a candidate without being held accountable by the public.

My final note: I can agree with this all except the final premise about NOT being accountable to the public if they speak out after service. Retired officers or enlisted members of the Armed Forces for that matter have served the nation faithfully and loyally and speaking out after retirement should not have any restrictions. As far as being accountable to the public – not a deal breaker of an issue of great concern.

They have from my experience served the public and the nation as a whole in a bi-partisan, non-threatening political fashion while on active duty being accountable to their chain-of-command the country. That is has been and should remain so.

After their service, all bets are off. They are and should remain free to speak their minds openly anywhere and at any time just every other American exercising that right of free speech. They have protected and earned that right, but after service is the key point.

Related – FYI:

PRI - 

NPR - 

The Hill - 

Thanks for stopping by – hope you enjoyed the stay.

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