John McCain Doesn’t Understand What Joint Chief Chairman Does
My first post for DefenseOne, “McCain is Wrong About Dempsey on Syria,” has posted.
The piece is relatively short and defies excerpting. The essence is that McCain wants the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to weigh in on the advisability of intervening in Syria and Dempsey argues that it’s the president’s job to make that call. The nut ‘graph:
Dempsey’s not a political pundit; he’s a uniformed military officer who answers to the elected commander-in-chief. If he were to articulate the administration’s policy as his own, he would come across as a lapdog, undermining the chairman’s standing as an independent voice. If he were to publicly criticize the administration’s policy, he would undermine civilian control of the military.
Interestingly, as this was going to “press,” another shoe dropped: Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who chairs the committee not only backed McCain’s move but signed a joint letter urging Dempsey’s detailed written response to not only those two questions but several others—including an assessment of the Afghanistan mission.
I’m perplexed that two such seasoned national security professionals are taking this tack.