Why America's veteran generals are am...

Why America's veteran generals are ambivalent over Syria

Posted in the Chicago Forum

Mark Perry

Matawan, NJ

#1 Sep 8, 2013
Why America's veteran generals are ambivalent over Syria
by Mark Perry
September 8, 2013 | 5:44PM ET

Commentary: Fear of open-ended wars with messy consequences gives recently retired, and some still active officers pause

When asked by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) during Senate testimony on Tuesday what the United States is "seeking" in Syria, Gen. Martin Dempsey had nothing to say. "I can't answer that, what we're seeking," he replied. Secretary of State John Kerry jumped in to answer for Dempsey, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman's response to the senator's question was noted, approvingly, by many at the Pentagon as something less than an endorsement of President Barack Obama's Syria policy.

If Obama orders the military into action in Syria, the response will be unflinching. But there's a discernible discomfort among recently retired generals and military intellectuals, echoed more quietly within the serving ranks, over fighting "wars of choice." Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed this disquiet during a widely circulated address at West Point in April of 2008, when he cited the three axioms taught by legendary military tutor Maj. Gen. Fox Conner to guide decisions about when the U.S. should go to war: The U.S., Conner had said, should never fight unless it has to, never fight alone, and never fight for long.

Chicken-shit America. Never fight alone, cluck cluck cluck.

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