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So, if President George W. Bush starts to prepare—or actually issues the order—for an attack [on Iran], what should the generals do? Disobey? Rally resistance from within? Resign in protest? Retire quietly? Or salute and execute the mission?Like most who have written on this subject, Charlie is understandably torn. Civilian control of the military is one of the cornerstones of Anglo-American democracy (to the point that when we discuss reform or training of foreign militaries we forget that for many their biggest fears are coups, not invasions). But what do you do when the civilians seem to be auditioning for Dr. Strangelove? (You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!)
They should arrange to be called before congressional committees and to be asked awkward questions, which would elicit their critical replies. At the final hour, they should threaten to retire or resign en masse and, if that didn't work, they should follow through. (Even if they quietly retired, the fact that three or four or six or eight generals did so at once would have some impact.)This strikes Charlie as reasonable given the extraordinary circumstances. But in her more ornery moods, she wants to push Kaplan one further: if the Merkwürdigeliebe civilians are hell-bent on invasion, why shouldn't the Generals stand strong and wait to be fired? No constitutional violations (on either side), and the civilians get to put their money where their mouth is. Obviously this is a near impossibility, but so is three or four or six generals "retiring."