When a president is weak, apparently just about anybody can make policy pronouncements. We already know the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs feels free to voice his doubts about Obama’s military policy decisions in the course of a public House Armed Services Committee meeting, so I suppose it’s open season on Obama. But it strikes me as utterly improper for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to involve himself publicly in a decision that is in no way rightfully his to make or influence… the amount of the Defense Dept. budget that is to be funded under the new godawful budget plan. Of course, either of these men should feel free to advise Obama in private in their respective areas of expertise; that is part of their role. But if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense can both freelance publicly on matters of policy, Obama may as well go home and have a beer; he no longer has control of his administration’s policy pronouncements.

In Obama’s position, I would fire these two fine gentlemen; they are anything but irreplaceable, and in America, we have a constitutionally mandated civilian control of the military. If in fact we don’t have that, I may as well go home and have a beer.

In this case, Panetta is demanding that there be no more defense cuts, period. If that demand were conceded by Obama, then there would with certainty be much larger cuts to entitlements… thanks to Republicans and Obama, the new Super Congress is faced with an allegedly classic guns-or-butter choice, all so that wealthy people and huge corporations can pay zero taxes.

This is unfair. Simply put, Panetta should stop freelancing in public and just STFU.

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  • Bryan  On Saturday August 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Actually by law, the Joint Chiefs and the DefSec are required to report to Congress, because Congress created the military, and can dissolve it. Congress is also the sole source for funding, and can, often does, ignore the budget put forth by the President.

    If you go below those levels, officers are toast for doing it. The Senate has to approve the promotion of officers, so they are directly involved in the military.

    It is a very weird system. but no one notices unless Congress decides to behave badly.

    • Steve  On Saturday August 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      Bryan, that IS a weird system. I suppose it does, at least in theory, retain civilian control of the military. I know Congress often pads the defense budget with contracts favorable to a given legislator’s district, but it seems to me that SecDef, the Joint Chiefs and not a few generals in the field are trying to pull a Douglas MacArthur on Obama. Maybe that’s legal in the case of SecDef and the Joint Chiefs, but it offends me that they do not convey their advice to the Commander-in-Chief first, before turning it into an unmistakably political issue.

      But… what do I know. The military is not exactly an area of expertise on my part! 🙂

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