Mackubin Owens teaches at the Naval War College in areas including civil-military relations, of which he is a genuine scholar. He is also a fellow of the Claremont Institute, which has collected his columns and articles here. In a column for the Standard, he places the resignation of Admiral Fallon in the history of American civil-military relations, highlighting the case of Abraham Lincoln and General McClellan:
McClellan and many of his favored subordinates disagreed with many of Lincoln’s policies, and indeed may have attempted to sabotage them. McClellan pursued the war he wanted to fight–one that would end in a negotiated peace–rather than the one his commander in chief wanted him to fight. The behavior of McClellan and his subordinates led Lincoln to worry that his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation might trigger a military coup.
McClellan openly expressed his disdain for the president and the secretary of War. Lincoln and his cabinet were aware of the rumors that McClellan intended to put “his sword across the government’s policy.” McClellan’s quartermaster-general, Montgomery Meigs expressed concern about “officers of rank” in the Army of the Potomac who spoke openly of “a march on Washington to ‘clear out those fellows.'”
That McClellan had his own idea for fighting the war, one that did not match that of his commander in chief, was revealed by one of his officers after the Maryland Campaign of September 1862. In response to a query from a colleague as to “why the rebel army [was not] bagged immediately after the battle near Sharpsburg [Antietam],” the officer replied “that is not the game. The object is that neither army shall get much advantage of the other; that both shall be kept in the field till they are exhausted, when we will make a compromise and save slavery.”
Lincoln dismissed the officer in question, remarking to his secretary John Hay “that if there was a ‘game’ ever among Union men, to have our army not take an advantage of the enemy when it could, it was his object to break up that game.” Shortly thereafter, Lincoln relieved McClellan himself after another long bout of inactivity following Antietam.
One would think that the history and the related point are elementary, except for the war of the bureaucracy and the elite press on the Bush administration. Given the political context in which Fallson’s resignation occurs, Mac’s instruction is unfortunately necessary. Mac’s column is “The fall of Admiral Geoge B. McFallon.”
JOHN adds: From today’s Washington Times: “Warriors welcome Fallon’s resignation”:
Current and former military officials welcomed the resignation of Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, saying he failed to prevent foreign fighters and munitions from entering Iraq.
To comment on this post, go here.