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TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND: PRINCIPLES OF CIVILIAN CONTROL AND BEST PRACTICES OF CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS

“This is one of the best explanations on how our civil and military leadership work together to ‘Support and Defend’ our Constitution. ” Sergeant Major Michael J. Weiss, Sr., U.S. Army Retired

Copied from https://warontherocks.com/2022/09/to-support-and-defend-principles-of-civilian-control-and-best-practices-of-civil-military-relations/ Sep 14, 22.

We are in an exceptionally challenging civil-military environment. Many of the factors that shape civil-military relations have undergone extreme strain in recent years. Geopolitically, the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ramping up of great power conflict mean the U.S. military must simultaneously come to terms with wars that ended without all the goals satisfactorily accomplished while preparing for more daunting competition with near-peer rivals. Socially, the pandemic and the economic dislocations have disrupted societal patterns and put enormous strain on individuals and families. Politically, military professionals confront an extremely adverse environment characterized by the divisiveness of affective polarization that culminated in the first election in over a century when the peaceful transfer of political power was disrupted and in doubt. Looking ahead, all of these factors could well get worse before they get better. In such an environment, it is helpful to review the core principles and best practices by which civilian and military professionals have conducted healthy American civil-military relations in the past — and can continue to do so, if vigilant and mindful.

1. Civilian control of the military is part of the bedrock foundation of American democracy. The democratic project is not threatened by the existence of a powerful standing military so long as civilian and military leaders — and the rank-and-file they lead — embrace and implement effective civilian control.

2. Civilian control operates within a constitutional framework under the rule of law. Military officers swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath of fealty to an individual or to an office. All civilians, whether they swear an oath or not, are likewise obligated to support and defend the Constitution as their highest duty.

3. Under the U.S. Constitution, civilian control of the military is shared across all three branches of government. Ultimately, civilian control is wielded by the will of the American people as expressed through elections.

4. Civilian control is exercised within the executive branch for operational orders by the chain of command, which runs from the president to the civilian secretary of defense to the combatant commanders. Civilian control is also exercised within the executive branch for policy development and implementation by the interagency process, which empowers civilian political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president and career officials in the civil service to shape the development of plans and options, with the advice of the military, for decision by the president. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is not in the formal chain of command, but best practice has the chairman in the chain of communication for orders and policy development.

5. Civilian control is exercised within the legislative branch through the extensive powers enumerated in Article I of the Constitution, beginning with the power to declare war, to raise and support armies, and to provide and maintain a navy. Congress determines the authorization and appropriation of funds without which military activity is impossible. The Senate advises and consents on the promotion of officers to the pay grade of O-4 and above. The Senate is also charged with advising and consenting to certain senior-level civilian political appointees. Congress conducts oversight of military activity and can compel testimony from military or civilian officials, subject to narrow exceptions such as executive privilege. Members of Congress empower personal and committee staff to shape the development of policies for decision by the committees and Congress as a whole and thereby play an important role in civilian oversight of policy.

6. In certain cases or controversies, civilian control is exercised within the judicial branch through judicial review of policies, orders, and actions involving the military. In practice, the power to declare a policy/order/action illegal or unconstitutional is decisive because the military is obligated (by law and by professional ethics) to refuse to carry out an illegal or unconstitutional policy/order/action.

7. Civilian control is enhanced by effective civil-military relations. Civil-military relations are comprised of a dynamic and iterative process that adjusts to suit the styles of civilian leaders. Under best practices, civil-military relations follow the regular order of the development of policy and laws, which protects both the military and civilian control. Under regular order, proposed law, policies, and orders are reviewed extensively by multiple offices to ensure their legality, appropriateness, and likely effectiveness. However, regardless of the process, it is the responsibility of senior military and civilian leaders to ensure that any order they receive from the president is legal.

8. The military has an obligation to assist civilian leaders in both the executive and legislative branches in the development of wise and ethical directives but must implement them provided that the directives are legal. It is the responsibility of senior military and civilian leaders to provide the president with their views and advice that includes the implications of an order.

9. While the civil-military system (as described above) can respond quickly to defend the nation in times of crisis, it is designed to be deliberative to ensure that the destructive and coercive power wielded by the U.S. armed forces is not misused.

10. Elected (and appointed) civilians have the right to be wrong, meaning they have the right to insist on a policy or direction that proves, in hindsight, to have been a mistake. This right obtains even if other voices warn in advance that the proposed action is a mistake.

11. Military officials are required to carry out legal orders the wisdom of which they doubt. Civilian officials should provide the military ample opportunity to express their doubts in appropriate venues. Civilian and military officials should also take care to properly characterize military advice in public. Civilian leaders must take responsibility for the consequences of the actions they direct.

12. The military reinforces effective civilian control when it seeks clarification, raises questions about second- and third-order effects, and proposes alternatives that may not have been considered.

13. Mutual trust — trust upward that civilian leaders will rigorously explore alternatives that are best for the country regardless of the implications for partisan politics and trust downward that the military will faithfully implement directives that run counter to their professional military preference — helps overcome the friction built into this process. Civil-military teams build up that reservoir of trust in their day-to-day interactions and draw upon it during times of crisis.

14. The military — active-duty, reserve, and National Guard — have carefully delimited roles in law enforcement. Those roles must be taken only insofar as they are consistent with the Constitution and relevant statutes. The military has an obligation to advise on the wisdom of proposed action and civilians should create the opportunity for such deliberation. The military is required ultimately to carry out legal directives that result. In most cases, the military should play a supporting rather than a leading role to law enforcement.

15. There are significant limits on the public role of military personnel in partisan politics, as outlined in longstanding Defense Department policy and regulations. Members of the military accept limits on the public expression of their private views — limits that would be unconstitutional if imposed on other citizens. Military and civilian leaders must be diligent about keeping the military separate from partisan political activity.

16. During presidential elections, the military has a dual obligation. First, because the Constitution provides for only one commander-in chief at a time, the military must assist the current commander-in-chief in the exercise of his or her constitutional duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Second, because the voters (not the military) decide who will be commander-in-chief, they must prepare for whomever the voters pick — whether a reelected incumbent or someone new. This dual obligation reinforces the importance of the principles and best practices described above.

Signatories:

Former Secretaries of Defense

Dr. Ashton Baldwin Carter
William Sebastian Cohen
Dr. Mark Thomas Esper
Dr. Robert Michael Gates
Charles Timothy Hagel
James Norman Mattis
Leon Edward Panetta
Dr. William James Perry

Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. (ret.) Martin Edward Dempsey
Gen. (ret.) Joseph Francis Dunford Jr.
Adm. (ret.) Michael Glenn Mullen
Gen. (ret.) Richard Bowman Myers
Gen. (ret.) Peter Pace

God Loves Us, Guest Post, Recommended Reading, Uncategorized

A Way Forward by, Michael Metzger

https://claphaminstitute.org/a-way-forward/ (copied Feb 14, 22)

I appreciate folks who can evolve in their thinking. So I find it fascinating that many who are evolving are recommending the same way forward.

In March of 2020 Chuck DeGroat wrote a confessional titled, It’s Always Been About Love. He felt he’d forgotten that. A great many evangelicals feel similarly, including James K. A. Smith, N. T. Wright and Dallas Willard. Here’s Wright’s evolution over the last 30 years.

In 1992 Wright wrote about a “spiral path” of knowing reality, where the only access we have to reality “lies along the spiraling path of appropriate dialogue or conversation between the knower and the thing known.”[1]Few Christians understood what he meant by that.

Maybe that’s why in 1999 Wright sounded rather pessimistic. “We live at a time of cultural crisis. At the moment I don’t hear anyone out there pointing a way forward.”[2] He felt some Christians “put up shutters” while others capitulate to the post-Christian world. “My brothers and sisters, we can do better than that.”

But Wright wondered aloud who in the faith community has a way forward?And, if believers aren’t pointing a way forward, who else might? By 2013, Wright had found a who else.

That year DeGroat joined a small group of believers meeting with Wright. They were exploring faith and formation. DeGroat asked Wright for his best recommendation for a resource that explores spiritual maturation at depth. Without hesitation, he recommended Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World as a way forward. Wright called it is a “magisterial” work.

I can imagine a few reasons why. McGilchrist says findings in neuroimaging reveal how knowing reality is a spiraling path, a reciprocating flow between the right and left hemisphere of the brain. It turns out Wright’s intuitions were right on.

McGilchrist says the right hemisphere is the intuitive mind. The left is the rational mind. Since 95 percent of the western world biases the left brain, and most of Wright’s readers are western Christians, most couldn’t intuit what he was saying. Small wonder Wright was pessimistic.

But there’s more. McGilchrist notes how only the right hemisphere has direct contact with the outside world, the cultures passing through our gills. The left doesn’t. Since 95 percent of the western world biases the left brain, and most of Wright’s readers are western Christians, most do not touch, feel, taste that we live at a time of cultural crisis.

But there’s more. According to McGilchrist, it is only in the right hemisphere that we make a paradigm shift. In most cultural crises, the way forward requires shifting some paradigms. I have a hunch Wright read that and thought, That’s why there’s so little spiritual maturation at depth. The deepest part of our being is not beliefs but paradigms, unconscious assumptions shaping beliefs. Western Christians don’t go deep enough into anthropology, human nature.

James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin University, does. He notes how our anthropologies shape our theologies. He gets that from reading scripture as well as Iain McGilchrist. He cites McGilchrist’s work as a way forward for the church.

It’s no coincidence that DeGroat, Smith, and Wright are all now saying they missed the wider picture. Love. All three come from Reformed traditions formed by the Enlightenment, biasing word over image, language over metaphor. Language is the domain of the left hemisphere, which is narrowly focused. Most Reformed traditions embrace a narrow view of the cross, substitutionary atonement. Jesus died on the cross to satisfy God’s demands for justice. Law. DeGroat, Smith, and Wright are saying they missed love.

The good news has always been about love… and law. In other words, Jesus did die for our sins. But he did this for the joy set before him of “marrying” us, loveenduring the cross, despising the shame. On the cross, we were betrothed to Jesus as his bride. [Yes Love. Father so loved us he sent Jesus. Jesus so loved Father and us he came. Holy Spirit so loved Father, Jesus and us he helps us know them. Jesus is the true way to life (more than Zoe, Shalom); Becoming children of God the Father, betrothed to King Jesus and indweldt by Holy Spirit. This comment added by Michael J. Weiss]

It seems that Dallas Willard was moving in this direction in the last months of his life. Like Wright and Smith, he was despairing. Do people really change—even with all the available resources and practices and disciplines? With his good friend and neuro-theologian Jim Wilder, Willard was exploring how neuroscience is a way forward, developing a psychology of love.

I had a similar experience when I first read The Master and His Emissary. That was in 2010. It helped me see why so few Christians recognize our post-Christian age. McGilchrist helped me see why we don’t seem to have a way forward, and why so few ever make the necessary paradigm shifts. I didn’t feel quite so alone.

That same year I read Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010by Charles Murray, a religious skeptic. Yet he’s hoping for a fourth awakening in America. The first three were led by religion. But Murray rightly notes that religion no longer has cultural capital in America. It can’t lead the way. Neuroscience can, so Murray writes…

“The more we learn about how human beings work at the deepest genetic and neural levels, the more that many age-old ways of thinking about human nature will be vindicated. The institutions surrounding marriage, vocation, community, and faith will be found to be the critical resources through which human beings lead satisfying lives.”[3]

Wow. Neuroscience is a way forward. It can validate, corroborate, older Christian traditions and their understanding of human nature. They can be a resource for shalom, satisfying lives, seeking the well-being of all.

So… if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day gift for a loved one who wants to evolve in their thinking, and seek a way forward… I highly recommend Iain McGilchrist’s work.

There’s The Master and His Emissary.

There’s a shorter rendition: Ways of Attending: How our Divided Brain Constructs the World.

And there’s McGilchrist’s new book: The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World. I bought the Kindle version and am currently making my way through it. I’ll report on it later, but I feel it’s reinforcing what a heckuva of lot of evangelicals smarter than me see as our way forward.

[1] N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, (Fortress Press, 1992), 35.

[2] N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is(InterVarsity, 1999), 195.

[3] Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010(Crown Publishing Group, 2012), 300.


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“The Gospel (Good News) is about how good God is and not how bad we are.” Michael Weiss