Patriots

A GOP member of the House Armed Services Committee lobbies for insubordination in the military. Surprised?

Colorado Congressman David Lamebrain Lamborn, who represents Colorado Springs and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, responded to one of his constituents, who asked a question that referred to “the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House” with a noncommittal
“I can’t add anything to that.” But the lamebrain added:

A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes saying, hey if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. Let’s have a public resignation and state your protest and go out in a blaze of glory.

Now of course a general who thinks the White House is seriously misguided has the legal right, and sometimes the moral duty, to resign and speak out. (Equally of course, he or she cannot speak out without resigning; that’s what “civilian control” and “chain of command” and “Commander in chief” mean.)

But for a politician to lobby serving officers to quit as combat action starts up is about three inches shy of inciting insubordination. If there are any actual patriots left in the GOP, they will join the rest of us in denouncing this grossly inappropriate behavior and demanding that official GOP bodies distance themselves from Rep. Lamborn. Their failure to do so will testify once more to how totally the Party of Lincoln is now in the hands of its lunatic fringe.

Footnote It ought to be remarkable that a serving Member of Congress should smile and not protest as of his dimwit constituents repeats war criminal Dick Cheney’s cowardly lie that the Administration has “supported the Muslim Brotherhood” (cowardly because Cheney said it behind closed doors to a bunch of GOP Congresscritters, to ensure that the falsehood would be reported but maintained Mr. Five-Draft-Deferments’ deniability). But of course the Weimar Republicans abandoned any pretense to civility years ago. In sober fact – and this goes back to Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay stabbing Bill Clinton in the back over Kosovo – most Republican politicians act as if they prefer American defeats as long as a Democrat is in the White House.

It’s simply not in Obama’s repertoire to express the appropriate righteous anger over this behavior. But I wish someone would. Maybe Bill Clinton?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

14 thoughts on “Patriots”

  1. Mark, if you’re going to mock a guy’s name, get his name right. His comment is worthy of ridicule. But it’s shabby to tar all Republicans with it by demanding a politically impossible denunciation standard. Democrats don’t own Maxine Waters’ greatest hits by virtue of non-denunciation. And you do this all in a post on declining civility! I’m a fan, but not one of your best posts.

    1. Tim, if Lamborn were a lonely lunatic like Waters, I might agree. But in fact this filth is common: witness the lack of any protest over Cheney's libel. As to what you see as my lack of civility in rebuking incivility, I can only quote Churchill: I refuse to be impartial as between the firefighters and the fire.

  2. You should not assume that Lamborn has actually talked to any generals who share his views. In other words, he's both a nasty piece of baggage engaging in improper advocacy, as you correctly note, and a liar.

  3. Thank you. Rachel Maddow reports that the congressman's opponent is a Democrat: a retired Air Force 2 star. Ridiculous question: How come only you and Rachel seem to be the only folks reporting on this? Maybe we do need national conscription again. Or have Civics/History become so fair and balanced that have finally gone the way of PE/Art and Music in high school?

  4. Mark,

    I think you should leave Congressman Lamborn alone. He is doing a great service for his country. Unintentionally and not the service he thinks he’s performing, perhaps, but if he is successful, he will nevertheless deserve the country’s gratitude.

    Here’s why: Our military has disastrously lost at least the last two wars. Our military also has way too many incompetent generals who live lavish, pampered lifestyle as, basically, unaccountable imperial viceroys who are promoted not for their fighting or planning ability but because they honed their skills as courtiers very sharply indeed—two facts that I suspect are connected.

    Now, if it were up to me, I would weed out some of this deadwood by hanging a substantial number of our less competent generals (probably starting with Tommy Franks) as a way of encouraging the others to perform better. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite for this proven motivational technique (which is also probably related to why we keep losing wars) so anything that gets rid of a large number of surplus generals is probably a net plus for both the military and the country’s war fighting capability

    1. Our military has disastrously lost at least the last two wars.

      It’s not clear to me which wars you’re referring to, but a military doesn’t lose a war, a country loses a war. In the case of Iraq, the U.S. military very efficiently crushed the Iraqi armed forces and eliminated the Saddam Hussein regime. That’ something a military can do. But if the war aim of the United States was to build a stable democratic country friendly to the United States, that is not a task that is achievable by military means; it was almost certainly not achievable by any means at the disposal of the United States, but it certainly wasn’t a military failure.

      Vietnam was also most definitely not a military failure, it was a failure of U.S policy. Again, the policy goal was (apparently; it was sometimes hard to discern) a stable South Vietnamese regime friendly to the United States. I don’t think there was ever much interest in whether that regime would be democratic. But there was absolutely no way, either by military or other means but most emphatically by military means, that that goal could have been achieved by the United States. An epic, monstrous failure, but not a military failure.

      I write as no big fan of the U.S. military, I hasten to add. But the failures of U.S. warmaking since the Second World War have not been military failures.

  5. The tactic, to amend the stock phrase, could be called "waving the bloody Confederate flag". It only alienates the other three-quarters of the population. In other bad news for the GOP

    the percentage of Latinos ages 19 to 64 lacking health coverage fell from 36% to 23% between summer 2013 and spring 2014.

    The 36% fall is more than for the population as a whole. H/t Charles Gaba, who soldiers on.

    1. In a way, you're right that this is bad news for the GOP. But I think the Republicans decided some time ago to fully commit to a strategy of exploiting the structural and "norm based" bottlenecks in the American political system. The former Confederacy and a few more sparsely populated states or states where they control the state government are more than enough to keep the GOP in the driver's seat for several more decades, maybe longer if the super rich don't lose their nerve.

      1. The problem with relying on changing demographics to help the country outgrow the worst of the GOP is that even if partisan and ethnic identities remain firm and remain aligned, it's going to be awfully slow to have a big effect: Democrats and especially minority-ethnic Democrats are relatively concentrated in urban areas, such that even a fair apportionment of House and Legislature districts tend to significantly undervalue their votes – and we often don't see a fair apportionment. Add to that a historical and largely continuing trend of lower voter turnout and the power of incumbency, not to mention money and especially the unregulated money of wealthy individuals and of corporations, and it will take a long, long time for the changing demographics to truly show themselves in the halls of power.

  6. A rare disagreement of mine with Mark – the assumption here is that officers strongly disagree with Obama but are keeping their heads down. If that happened in the runup to the Iraq war then I wouldn't have disagreed with a Democratic politician telling officers who anticipated disaster to resign and speak out.

    1. Not sure we disagree. I don't think there's evidence that Lamborn has a good audience for his attempt to weaken military discipline in (effectively) wartime. But it's clear that he's trying.

  7. Can't the House remove Rep Lambon from the Armed Services Committee ? My impression is that Speaker Boehner can reassign him (at least speaker Pelosi had almost unlimited authority to do that — it might depend on caucus rules or something). I think that the argument (so Speaker Boehner) should be that Lambon is unfit to serve on the Armed Services Committee and should be replaced.

    as it

    Dear Mr Speaker

    Recently Representative Colorado Congressman David Lamborn (R-Co) who serves on the House Armed Services Committee said "A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes saying, hey if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. Let’s have a public resignation and state your protest and go out in a blaze of glory."

    Of course officers have the right to resign (except when engaged in actual combat) and Rep Lambon has the right to speak. However, I think that making this suggestion in a time of (undeclared) war is conduct inconsistent with service on the Armed Services Committee.

    Do you as speaker have the authority to reassign representative Lambon ? If so, I think you should remove him from the Armed Services Committee immediately. If not, can you ask the House Republican Caucus to replace him with someone marginally fit to serve on that committee ? If so please do so immediately.

    Also Congress has the authority and responsibility to decide if the US is at war with ISIS. I know you don't want to do your job and that President Obama is willing to do it for you. But you swore an oath so get on it — either declare war or order the executive branch to stop fighting.

    sincerely yours,

    Robert Waldmann

    (sent and I forgot to uncheck the box asking his office for updates)

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