America’s military generals should retire from becoming America’s TV talking heads
Editor’s Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Americans are more politically divided now than at any time in living memory.
It seems that the old adage about opinions and assholes has finally been proven without a doubt. And perhaps the most prominent people with both are America’s retired general and flag officers.
From Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.) to Marine Gen. John Allen (Ret.), retired senior officers now seem almost as prone to join political campaigns as they are corporate boards. Cable networks also love having them on panels to lend credibility to their cadre of talking heads.
Between their appearances in political events and on cable, many people believe that these retired officers are damaging civil-military relations — that by expressing their personal political opinions they might make people think the military is a political institution.
Therein lies the problem. It’s not that senior officers speaking for partisans lowers the military’s reputation, but that the military’s reputation is too high to begin with. The military and its leaders are held in unjustifiably high esteem. The military has come to be perceived as the all-purpose multi-tool of American power, while service in the profession of arms has come to eclipse all other forms of service in perceived merit.
For example, if one thinks of what American institution does humanitarian assistance overseas, most people wouldn’t answer USAID, they’d answer the US military. If you asked what job is associated with serving one’s country, almost everyone would say the military.
So if you want the best expert on anything national security for your political campaign or to fill out your herd of talking heads for a news channel, why not get a senior military …read more
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