MoveOn’s McCarthy Moment
Duke security scholar Peter Feaver, no right wing shill, dubs yesterday’s MoveOn.org attack on General David Petraeus as “Betray Us” the movement’s “McCarthy moment.”
Precisely because it is so vicious, so public, and so deliberate, the attack on Petraeus cannot be ignored by either side in the Iraq debate. Supporters of the war are duty-bound, like Joseph Welch, to rise and ask of war opponents, “Have you left no sense of decency?” Antiwar members of Congress, like Senator McCarthy’s allies, are obliged to answer.
Let us be clear. It is legitimate to grill Petraeus on his testimony and to ask him tough questions about the strategy he has been pursuing. It is legitimate to disagree with him, or to conclude that an alternative course of action has a better chance of advancing US interests in the region. Healthy civil-military relations do not depend on accepting uncritically anything a senior military officer says. Quite the opposite, they depend on a full and frank exchange of views.
It is not legitimate, however, and it is exceedingly corrosive of healthy civil-military relations to question the general’s patriotism when his views differ from yours and are inconvenient for one’s political agenda.
Quite so. Feaver has framed my instinctual reaction to the ad in broader terms in a very clear manner.
I would add, too, that it would be helpful if partisans on both sides would stop using the military and “the troops” for political cover. The Petraeus fetishism on the Right, while less unseemly, has been quite corrosive as well and helped garner this response.