I’ve said before that there’s something disturbing when the spooks start trying to undermine their civilian masters by leaking against them or otherwise. Even when I agree with the spooks.
And I have to say more or less the same thing about the news that the Army Times, the Air Force Times, and the Navy Times are all running an unprecedented editorial tomorrow — the day before the election — calling for the ouster of the Secretary of Defense.
On the merits, they are right of course, but late to the party. And a great part of our military predicament appears to be due to the promotion of a clique of yes-man generals, and the sidelining of those with the guts to stand up to demented requirements of Rumsfeld and the (now, too late, repentant) neo-cons.
But the merits are not in doubt. The issue is the politics. This coordinated editorial will be seen as representing the voice of the officer corps. And why not? Rumsfeld is killing their troops, sending them in meaningless circles — taking and abandoning cities — without a strategic plan that anyone can understand.
The service magazines are technically private. But they will be seen, as they have been for at least two generations, as speaking for their readers. Their readers have more sense than their leaders, and have no great desire to keep being herded over the cliff.
So while I agree with the sentiment, it’s not a happy moment, not at all. This is bad for discipline, bad for morale, bad for the country. The trouble is that the service papers may have correctly decided that silence might have been even worse.
This deserves to be devastating in Tuesday’s election.
Let’s hope the long-run consequences are not devastating in a different way.