Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Regimentations

In a Third World “banana republic,” the political structure is, let us say, supervised by an armed force: most usually, the country’s military. Thus, when a significant change to the political authority occurs, the “outgoing” power will strain with all its might to retain its grip on the military. We saw a recent example of this in 1990 in Nicaragua, when Violeta Chamorro defeated Daniel Ortega and ousted the Sandinistas from nominal power. But the Sandinistas, by virtue of having ensured that its senior commanders were politically loyal, managed to keep control of the nation’s armed forces, and so was positioned to retake power some years afterward.

Perhaps that pattern isn’t just for “banana republics:”

Defense: What the president calls "my military" is being cleansed of any officer suspected of disloyalty to or disagreement with the administration on matters of policy or force structure, leaving the compliant and fearful....

We have commented on some of the higher profile cases, such as Gen. Carter Ham. He was relieved as head of U.S. Africa Command after only a year and a half because he disagreed with orders not to mount a rescue mission in response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi.

Rear Adm. Chuck Gaouette, commander of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, was relieved in October 2012 for disobeying orders when he sent his group on Sept. 11 to "assist and provide intelligence for" military forces ordered into action by Gen. Ham....

Nine senior commanding generals have been fired by the Obama administration this year, leading to speculation by active and retired members of the military that a purge of its commanders is under way.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, notes how the White House fails to take action or investigate its own officials but finds it easy to fire military commanders "who have given their lives for their country." Vallely thinks he knows why this purge is happening.

"Obama will not purge a civilian or political appointee because they have bought into Obama's ideology," Vallely said. "The White House protects their own. That's why they stalled on the investigation into Fast and Furious, Benghazi and ObamaCare. He's intentionally weakening and gutting our military, Pentagon and reducing us as a superpower, and anyone in the ranks who disagrees or speaks out is being purged."

Another senior retired general told TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity, because he still provide services to the government and fears possible retribution, that "they're using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don't agree with them or do not toe the party line. Remember, as (former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis."

If that doesn’t stir the hair on the back of your neck, Gentle Reader, check your pulse: you may have died and not noticed.


The United States military has never been subjected to the sort of political conditioning that characterizes the militaries of other lands. The American soldier-to-be takes the following oath of service as a requirement of admission:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

There’s a certain tension in there, in that “the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me” could well be in opposition to the Constitution’s requirements. However, that would place those who emit such orders in the category of domestic enemies to the Constitution. As a new soldier is expected to have read and understood the Constitution -- don’t quibble; time was you couldn’t get past eighth grade without having demonstrated that -- his right to ignore anti-Constitutional orders would seem well protected.

Recent events suggest that that protection is being weakened. It’s been reported that cadets at West Point have been asked “Would you fire upon American citizens if ordered to do so?” and that questionnaires bearing that question have been circulated among National Guardsmen in several states. Whether any particular actions have followed those questions is not known.

It was once true that America’s military could not subjugate its citizens, because the citizenry was too well armed. Unfortunately, that time was long ago. Our armed forces are equipped today with weapons and technologies that would enable it to impose its commanders’ will upon any portion of the country, no matter how large, though admittedly at a great cost in lives. Thus, our protection from such oppression lies entirely in our servicemen’s unwillingness to embrace such a mission.

That unwillingness appears to be under attack.


Time was, our military, like our civilian population, was overwhelmingly Christian. More, the top command believed it wholesome and necessary to reinforce that influence, by strongly encouraging religious observance and by providing the chaplains’ corps. Christianity was thus an important bond uniting the armed forces to the larger nation.

But Christianity among our servicemen is also under attack:

[Retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin] said the concern over an erosion on religious freedom in the military is legitimate because “open hostility” against Christians is well documented and getting worse in the Armed Forces.

Boykin claimed “the administration would be very happy” if the vestiges of Christianity” were removed from the military.

One of Boykin’s greatest disappointments is the absence of high-ranking military officers willing to stand up for their forces and their rights.

“There has not been enough courage demonstrated by the senior leaders. I’d like to see the senior leaders in our military show some leadership, show some courage on this kind of issue.”

If the pattern of religious hostility persists, Boykin says young people and their families will simply decide military service is not worth the assault on their values. [Emphasis added]

Give that emphasized sentence some hard thought. If the United States military is shorn of commanders and servicemen unwilling to be used against the civilian population, our last defenses will have been stripped away. Let the top commanders become “politically reliable” toadies of the Administration, and all the pieces for a final coup against the Constitution and Americans’ rights will be in place.

Long ago, I wrote of an imaginary counter-coup against an administration determined to impose its will on America through the armed forces. That little story drew a lot of praise: praise which carried an undercurrent of conviction that our men at arms really could be relied upon to refuse orders to be used against their civilian brethren. Americans take great pride in our military for several reasons, but its fidelity to the rights of Americans and the ideals of Americanism is surely among them.

If that condition is sufficiently undermined, there could be terrible consequences. It would begin with a purge -- a blood purge -- of whatever remnant of good and true men might remain in our military. Should that ever occur, you may rest assured, Gentle Reader, that it would be only the beginning.


A term in the military always begins with regimentation: the instilling in the new recruit of the disciplines that will make him a useful and reliable fighting man. This is perfectly understandable, within limits. But that regimentation must not go beyond military utility to utility as an ethically empty, reflexively compliant political tool. Yet that’s where the Administration appears determined to go.

If there is a firm barrier against such ultra-regimentation, it lies in our servicemen’s Christian faith. But no such barrier is infinitely firm. As the citation above demonstrates, it’s being assaulted as we speak. Whether it will withstand that assault is unknowable at this time.

However, we must stop short of recommending an intensified campaign of Christian outreach among our soldiers specifically for its practical value. A faith accepted (or imposed) for utilitarian reasons is a weak and vulnerable faith, for there will always be appeals to “utilities” that the faith excludes as ethically unacceptable. Make those attractive enough, and such a “faith” will dissipate as if it had never been. As C. S. Lewis put it:

Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist's shop. [C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters]

Faith must always be sincere to be true. It must not be adopted because it “leads to better outcomes.” Yet in Christian faith lies a great secret of liberation, best expressed by the great Gilbert Keith Chesterton:

The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted; precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.

The soldier of sincere faith will therefore know that the regimentations required of him by his term of service are temporary things imposed for a specific and limited purpose. They cannot overturn the far briefer and infinitely more intense ethical structure proclaimed by Christ.

No, we cannot and must not promulgate Christianity among our servicemen for its utility. But we can entice young Americans into it for far better reasons, such that those who elect a term of military service will bring it with them at a depth that no regimentation can extinguish. The protection it provides against having their guns turned against us is, as weapons analysts like to say, merely spinoff.

Food for thought.

4 comments:

Fatebekind said...

Thomas Jefferson used Meriwether Lewis to tour every Army post in the US and gather intelligence on all officers and their politics in order to purge the ranks of any officers that were Federalists.Check Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage.

Pascal Fervor said...

I fear you may be in err about the utilitarian portion of faith. Yes, only utilitarian is a weak reason. But don't discount the idea either. There it is at the core of Pascal's wager. Would you say that He forbids us to use Him in that way? To the contrary, don't you know of rituals that inform you precisely the opposite? I think I do.

Think on that question Fran. I pray you see an newly insightful alternate to such rejection. Food for thought indeed.

DAN III said...

soetoro-obama is constitutionally illegal. He does not meet the requirements of Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5, US Constitution.

He along with literally HUNDREDS of his inner circle, should be arrested and tried. Upon conviction, at a minimum, thrown into a jail cell at Fort Leavenworth for the rest of their natural lives.

Anonymous said...

The rest of their natural lives? I figured death by firing line would somewhat undermine that.
-fenris-