General Dempsey, a much decorated West Point and Duke grad, has served for the past year as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military advisor to the President.
He understands the role of the military in our democracy is to stay out of politics.
He speaks for the military. He is the symbol of the Pentagon.
And that is where the problem lies. He has made several statements recently that cast doubt on his perspicuity. He seems to be carrying water for the President, who appointed him, rather than speaking as the independent voice of the military.
He said in a CNN interview on Sunday, February 19 “And we are of the opinion that the Iranian regime is a rational actor,” and we should continue with the sanctions which are working, echoing his February testimony before Congress. That is clearly the position of President Obama, but it defies common sense.
He cautioned against an Israeli attack against Iran in an interview with reporters in London. He remarked that Israel would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” adding “I don’t want to be complicit if they choose to do it.”
It’s not his decision to make; that belongs to the President or Israel. His statement though sends a message to the “rational” Iranians that a major schism exists between the Americans and Israelis.
The Obama Administration, perhaps through National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, has leaked a wide variety of sensitive national security information in the aftermath of the Bin Laden Raid and sabotage of the Iranian nuclear activities.
Former CIA and military special forces are outraged by the harm to national security. They formed a Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, which has run ads against the President’s reelection.
General Dempsey spoke out against them, stating their activities were “not useful.” He said “If someone uses the uniform, whatever uniform, for partisan politics, I am disappointed because I think it does erode that bond of trust we have with the American people.”
The rule is well understood. Active duty military are to remain publicly neutral. Ex-military, such as this new PAC, have every right to exercise their First Amendment Freedom of Speech.
General Dempsey spoke out against the rights of ex-military. That is, at best, ill-advised, but gives the impression that once again the General is speaking on behalf of the President. He has crossed the political line.
More recently, he followed the Obama Administration’s party line on the Muslim attacks against American embassies. Even after it became clear that the attacks were preplanned and orchestrated, the Administration stuck to the claim that they were spontaneous as a result of the anti-Islamic, anti-Prophet video.
The Reverend Terry Jones is the Florida minister who proposed to burn a stack of Qurans last year, causing great outrage in the Islamic world, and earning the Reverend his fifteen minutes of fame. Reverend Jones supports the video.
General Dempsey phoned Reverend Jones last week, asking him to withdraw his support of the video. Once again, we have an act that is inappropriate for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is interfering with the freedom of speech possessed by civilians.
General Dempsey has crossed the line; he has become an active spokesman for the President while wearing his generals’ stars.