Does “honorably” mean “criminally”?

If not, George W. Bush didn’t “serve honorably.”

Perusing this morning’s newspapers and blogs, I see that there’s still confusion over what I take to be the central point.

The military is not an ordinary bureaucracy or corporation. In civilian life, not doing what your boss tells you is just a risky career strategy. In military life, it’s a crime, indeed the basic crime in military law: disobedience of a lawful order. It risks a court-martial and whatever punishment that court-martial may direct: that is, it’s the military equivalent of a felony, not a misdemeanor.

The claim that Mr. Bush’s plans to move to Alabama during the summer — plans not then approved by his superiors — somehow invalidated the order he received in Texas in May simply doesn’t pass the giggle test. The order is dated 04 May and 1LT Bush is ordered to comply by 14 May. He didn’t.

So the argument about whether George W. Bush served “honorably” should now be over, unless “honorably” and “criminally” are the same concept.

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: