Cincinnatus, Washington, Sherman and Marshall
General of the Army George C. Marshall, the architect and nanny of the military victory in World War II, was a modern day Cincinnatus, Washington and Sherman. All knew that the military was subordinate to civilian policy-making if one wanted to live in a world with fewer and fewer problems. The military was the means of last resort when the civilians failed in public policy-making, that is, war was diplomacy by other means. (Clausowitz). All three were men of peace who viewed strong, decisive military action as the quickest way to ending war and restoring peace. None, by example, wanted a government of military men.
In the early days of the Roman Republic, an invasion prompted the elected officials to approach Cincinnatus, a retired general, to don the toga of dictator--six months of unquestioned rule, 24 lictors with the fasces, and no recrimination for any action. Leaving his plow in the field, Cincinnatus road his horse off to organize and defeat the invaders whereupon he returned home, re-hitched the plow and continued farming.
After the victory at Yorktown, the dissastified, non-paid officers of Continental Army prepared a proposal for George Washington to become king of America. Some leaders of the Continental Congress had similar plans. In a memorable speech, the Temple Speech, Washington squashed the plans citing the inherent strength of civilian leadership in solving the problems of civilization. From this meeting, the Society of Cincinnatus was formed from these officers to honor Washington echoing the example of Cincinnatus.
"If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve" were the summary statements of General William Tecumseh Sherman on the role of military men pursuing high public office. If Grant had followed Sherman's example, Grant would not have gone done in history with the stigma of ineptness and corruption in high office. Upon becoming commanding general of the US military after the Civil War, four-star Billy moved the army headquarters to St. Louis to distance military decision-making from interfering petty politicians. Sherman's March to the Sea embodied the principle of the quickest victory to peace is to fulfill the meaning of "War is Hell!"
In bringing economic-destroying war upon the Confederate civilian population, Sherman buttresses the need for a separation of civilian and military leadership. When a consoling Lincoln vistied the defeated and dispirited troops after the loss at the Battle of Bull Run, Sherman (then a colonel) "asked Lincoln to 'to discourage all cheering.' After the boasts that preceded Bull run, he explained, 'what we needed were cool, thought, hard-fighting soldiers--no more hurrahing, no more humbug.*'" Lincoln checked the troops when they started cheering.
Consistently, as shown in many military coups, political generals make lousy policy-makers and military leaders. the poster child for military ineptness is the 2008 Air Force $40 billion decision to purchase European rather than American planes. More important than the polite, not political, question of "How can the military expect American workers to support the military if the military won't support the worker?" is the question of how can unemployed workers pay taxes to purchase planes? Given that each dollar multiplies by a factor of five, the plane contract was really more like a loss of $200 billion dollars instead of $40 billion. More broadly, how can Americans compete if they don't have jobs to learn how to compete? Catch-22. (An Air Force Lt. General said that it did not matter who built the plane as long as it had USA painted on it. Duh.)
When the military does not focus totally on winning wars because they become involved in politics, wars and nations are lost. Consider the words, style and record of another Civil War general, George McClellan.
"You have no idea how the men brighten up now, when I go among them ... Yesterday they nearly pulled me to pieces in one regt. You never near such yelling."*
"God has placed a great work in my hands."
In war studies, both Uncle Billy and Little Mac are studied, one for what to do and the other for what not to do. Whereas Sherman said he would not run nor serve, the Little Napolean, as the 1864 Democrats' presidential nominee, ran but did not serve, for he was not elected. Little Mac had a hidden agenda of prolonging the war until war-worry fatigue prompted a compromise whereby the peculiar institution would be saved.
General George C. Marshall was a human being who as a military man set an example that all serving personnel should follow in the axiomatic separation of political and military instruments.
Marshall personifies the separation of military from politics, a divide that disappears each time that military units grab-ass with visiting politicians for a high-five, hi-mom photo-ops. As Marborough and Pitt were the strategic wizards of the Eighteenth Century that imperially created the economic and political British Empire so was Marshall the sublime maven of the Twentieth Century when human rights were being extinguished by the fascist Axis powers. Ironically, the winning strategy of the Second World War was the political and economic curtailment of the British Empire to open the doors of global American economic and political dominance. The history of military involvement in politics is no better than theocracies where a non-work segment controls the policy-making for bread-and-butter everyday population.
The businesses of fighting and praying are not working enterprises. Work is solving the real problems of survival. Prayer is trying to get something for nothing, a last resort when logic and reason is lacking or ignored. Fighting is destroying rather than creating, a last resort when logic and reason is lacking or ignored: "War is diplomancy by other means"(Clausewitz). Persons trained in non-working businesses, like habitual athletes, may claim that they work but they only fight, pray or play. Policy-making for a better working world has been and will be less productive if politics is monopolized by military juntas, religious theocracies or obsessed sports-addicts. To wit, when politicians make good policy than the polity in the polis will be polite without police.
The degree to which one brings irrelevant factors into the problem-solving process, personal or public, will be matched by incompleteness of the problem solution. Either the problem will be partially solved or remain unsolved. One can see this in the historical overthrow of juntas, theocracies and playgrounds. Sadly, and currently, one can see this management style of Geo. W. Bush who implemented a de facto theocratic White House, e.g., Iraq is a faith-based initiative. The more theocratic our secular leaders, the more we need the bliss of ignorance to wade through the rising sea of ignored, unsolved problems. The bliss of illogical igknowance is not the serenity of logical faith.
What does this all mean? Lessons to be learned:
A soldier who cheers a politician is a non-soldier in uniform.
A soldier who relies on God or faith to solve a problem abuses God rather than those who use God to keep solving the problem.
Theocracies always lose in wars with secular forces, for the theocrats increasingly rely on God's will as the reason for misfortune rather than saying "Praise God, but first pass the ammo."
The US invasion of Iraq was a faith-based initiative wrapped in politicians wrapping themselves in claims of crusades against evil and of patriotism for country, claims that were seconded by cheering troops whose enthusiasm for questionable war did not last.
In the current global civil war between moral and immoral attitudes, it won't matter who wins, for the house of humanity is burning down with nothing being left for whoever wins due to global dying.
Another way of claiming the logical fact of and need for military-politics separation is the observation that guerillas are good at over-throwing but not at running governments.
Favorite Marshall Stories:
Notes: Vestal Veterans
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