Monday, November 28, 2016

Keep generals out of the State Department

Some of the names being bandied about for Secretary of State: Mitt Romney. John Bolton. David Petraeus. John F. Kelly.

The last two? Former generals — Petraeus from the Army, Kelly from the Marines. And maybe it's worth asking: Why do we keep putting military men in charge of our diplomacy?

Since World War II — and, roughly, the advent of the modern Department of Defense — former generals have served as the nation's top diplomat several times: George C. Marshall, Alexander Haig, Colin Powell. The latter two, it's fair to say, didn't exactly have distinguished tenures.

That's not necessarily due to their military backgrounds. On the other hand — correct me if I'm wrong — nobody from America's diplomatic ranks has been named to run the Defense Department.

It's a sign of American militarization that we have a tendency to think the skills of warfighting should be transferrable to conducting America's non-warfighting business abroad. More likely: It means the president's foreign policy is being run by somebody who already has a militarized outlook — something he can already get from, you know, the military.

I don't expect Donald Trump to build a team of rivals, believe me. But it's an ongoing issue. If you put warfighters in charge of warfighting and diplomacy, I suspect what you get is more war.

No comments: