Hey Blair, Fire General Dannatt
Britain’s top general, Sir Richard Dannatt, should be unceremoniously fired for his recent calls for the British troop evacuation from Iraq. While he has every right to his own opinion on the matter, and that opinion may even be proven correct over time (although I doubt it), as a military officer sworn to obey the commands of his civilian superiors, he must not be allowed to undermine the civilian government. At the end of that path lies tyranny and military dictatorship, which democracies have sought to prevent by strict prohibitions on political activity or speech by uniformed officers.
President Harry Truman was right to fire the great Douglas MacArthur when the general publicly opposed the president’s policies in Korea. Blair should take a page from Truman’s book and fire Dannatt now. Such a move will be widely criticized, just as it was when the unpopular Truman fired the wildly popular MacArthur. But democracies cannot allow military officers engage in political discourse. Even if a civilian government chooses to send its troops into a certain bloodbath in which huge numbers will die, such as the Allied amphibious landings at Normandy in 1944, generals cannot then second guess the decision in the press and expect to continue wearing their uniforms.
Mr. Dannatt (to Hell with noble titles like “Sir) is guilty of insubordination. Blair, already on his way out of government, should make sure the general leaves his official post as well. There is no place in a democracy for politicking military officers.