The revelation that our generals expect Americans solders to allow screaming young boys to be sodomized and not stop it is simply the latest manifestation of the utter moral bankruptcy infecting the senior ranks of the U.S. military.
The problems with America’s military—which has now failed to win three wars in a row against backward fanatics whom the nineteenth-century Brits would have handily dispatched to hell in time for tea—are not merely budgetary. You can’t buy real leaders, leaders with strategic competence and moral courage. Aging equipment, while a problem, is nothing compared to the incompetence and moral cowardice of our military’s senior leaders.
Note the term “moral cowardice.” Many of these generals are decorated combat veterans who would gleefully charge an enemy machine-gun nest. But that physical courage in the face of the enemy does not translate into moral courage in the face of politicians and social justice warriors. It’s disheartening to see officers with Combat Infantryman badges and silver stars sheepishly nodding along with the lies of the coddled liberal elite.
There are fine generals—I served under many. But enough are not that the ranks are demoralized and the best and brightest future leaders are abandoning military careers, not because they don’t want to serve, but because they know it will be difficult to succeed unless they likewise abandon the principles that propelled them toward service in the first place.
You Can’t Just Blame Obama
It would be too easy to blame Barack Obama. As commander in chief, he is responsible for everything those under his command do or fail to do, and his political agendas and bizarre social engineering priorities, enacted by the eager band of loyalists he has promoted into the senior ranks over more capable warriors, have little to do with fighting and winning. Without a media interested in holding him to account for the dreadful performance of the military since his inauguration, Obama has a free ride.
Yet focusing on the feckless community organizer in the Oval Office just serves to let the generals off the hook. Obama cares nothing for the military, and no one expects him to. But it is not too much to expect our generals to care about their organizations, to care about winning wars and protecting their soldiers more than about getting that additional star.
The military certainly had a tough problem in Afghanistan. Within the military, the fact that many of our putative allies delight in raping kids was an open secret. On one hand, you can’t always expect your allies in Third World knifefights to be Eagle Scouts. On the other hand, we are talking about raping kids.
Choosing the Most Horrific Option
Without a doubt, the commander in Afghanistan could evaluate the situation, determine that we are not going to tolerate the rape of children, and instruct our troops to fire two warning shots into the sternum of anyone found doing so. In fact, in the spirit of decentralization that is the mark of a winning military, the commander could further emphasize that he is not putting a ceiling on the number of shots that could be fired—if the soldier on the ground thinks he needs to fire more rounds into the sternum of the pederast, that’s just good combat leader initiative.
Sure, this may temporarily make some of our allies less willing to support us, but it is the morally right thing to do and, in the long run, it would send a powerful message that locals need to start appreciating the cultural norms of the people who traveled halfway around the world to save their sorry excuse for a country.
Alternatively, the American commander in Afghanistan could decide that our need for allies outweighs the need to prevent child rape, and clearly announce that our forces will do nothing to stop it when they see it. Sometimes, you need to accept the cultural mores of useful local forces, as deplorable as they are, and as soldiers you are expected to be disciplined enough to do so. Of course, that would raise certain uncomfortable questions back home, such as, “Mr. President, why the hell are your generals telling our troops to look the other way when they see a man anally raping a little boy?”
So, faced with these two options, the craven generals selected the worst possible option, and failed to give clear guidance one way or the other. Instead of taking on the responsibility that comes with the job, they punted. They chose not to give clear orders—“See it and stop it” or “See it but do nothing”—putting the risk they should bear as commanders onto their subordinates. Now, soldiers have to decide whether to do what is right or do what their generals telegraph they want done but won’t say because they don’t want to be held accountable for it.
This comes in the form of squishy guidance like, “If you see it, report it.” Apparently, a captain who comes across a kid being raped on some forward operating base is to do an about-face, stroll back to the main command post, call up to his battalion, which calls up to the brigade, which calls up to the division, and so on until it gets to the top, at which point the Afghan government gets told that out there in the wild one of their guys is raping kids. Presumably the pederast has finished the act by the time whatever consequences (if any) follow.
So, if the captain acts according to Army values and puts a stop to the child rape, he’s wrong. If he does nothing, and later some congressman or reporter asks the general why his troops aren’t stopping child rapes, the captain is going to be wrong again. If you think the general is going to say, “Oh, the captain as just following my order to allow child rapes occurring in front of him to continue,” you are delusional.
Symptom of a Greater Moral Crisis
This is merely a symptom, though, of the greater moral crisis inside the military. It now appears that CENTCOM, the command responsible for losing the phony war against ISIS, was cooking the intelligence books to support the Obama administration’s policies. It’s hard to imagine General James Mattis tolerating that nonsense. As a warrior with integrity, he had no place in the current leadership and was fired as CENTCOM commander, apparently for gross competence.
Then there is the Ranger School fiasco, where the generals are assuring everyone who will listen that the two women who passed the grueling course did so just like any male candidate. We’d love to believe that—it would be an awesome achievement. But, according to some close to the process, that was a lie, and the process was fixed from the beginning to obtain the politically useful result. The Navy secretary did not raise confidence that truth takes precedence over political expediency when he dismissed out of hand the lengthy, deliberate Marine Corp study on women in infantry units as purely the result of sexism.
Then there are the personal lapses. General David Petraeus slept with a subordinate and treated classified material cavalierly; not being a senior Democrat ally of President Obama, he was actually charged with a crime. Another general at the 82nd Airborne was court martialed for using his staff as a harem. In the least shocking development ever, neither general joined lower-ranking soldiers guilty of equivalent or lesser offenses in prison.
We have the greatest troops in the world, probably in all of human history. Fighting with old, worn equipment is a challenge, but that can be overcome. The lack of competent, morally courageous senior leaders can’t be.
Obama bears some of the blame because he could fix this with a few select firings and unequivocal guidance that values come first. But no one expects that of him, and there is no excuse why the generals have not done it themselves. They could demand competence. They could demand moral courage. They could resign rather than play along with misguided politics. But they have chosen their stars and positions and perks instead. It’s a disgrace, and our troops and little Afghan kids are paying the price.