I understand active military can't really weigh in? Maybe? I've never really understood where the line is on that one...I gave him an answer that it was never appropriate for active duty military in uniform to speak up politically and then prefaced my comment to say that many would share their opinions out of uniform via their Facebook or Twitter. However, there have long been a certain subset that have been willing to flirt with the rules. Low and behold, today's Stripes.com has a story about active duty military, in uniform, ranks and ribbons galore, hiding their faces behind signs like the one pictured above:
I didn't join the Navy to fight for Al Qaeda in a Syrian Civil War!More below the fold.
There is a reason why our men and women in uniform do not share their political opinions. And although I understand that there are times when those serving cannot support the decisions of their Commander-in-Chief, I strongly believe that speaking out in uniform is not the right answer. My reasoning has to do with the way in which our Founding Fathers designed the system - we do not have a military dictatorship and we do not want one. Nor do we want to see a military coup. Military members that express political opinions in uniform are a threat to our form of Democracy.
Speaking out and hiding your face smacks of cowardice. Better to resign or retire than to cover your face. What we have now is a subset of military enlisted leadership who seem unwilling to follow future orders. It brings into question how trustworthy our own troops will be when asked to move forward and fight. A civilian commander should never have to question the loyalty of his troops. Nor should a commander in the field.
When President Obama was first elected, a small but vocal group of former and active duty military started an organization called Oathkeepers. I'll let you find their pages on your own as I have no desire to link to them. However, this group decided that under certain circumstances, they would have no qualms about not following the President's directives. It is this kind of activity that encourages even more troops to be vocal in questioning the Commander-in-Chief. This kind of subtle, under the radar, activity is detrimental to the good workings of a military unit.
I believe that the few pictures that have appeared online are probably of the conservative Oathkeeper variety. Their impact, hopefully, is very minor. The last thing we need is for other nations to believe that the US military may not follow civilian leadership. That is a recipe for disaster.
Yet these photos are being used to perpetuate that very idea. The Syrian Electronic Army hacked the US Marine Corp website to share these very photos and claim:
This is a message written by your brothers in the Syrian Army, who have been fighting Al Qaeda for the last 3 years.I strongly believe that men and women in uniform should remain silent when asked about their opinions on potential conflicts. And that means I don't believe that they should speak in support of a President's directive either. I was never more frustrated than during the Iraq War when the press would interview soldiers in the field. Those who agreed with President Bush felt empowered to speak up and those who disagreed knew that speaking out would be the end of their careers. Our press should not put our military members in this position. Nor should our military Public Affairs officers use our military members to push forth a President's agenda. Yet we see it happen again and again.
We understand your patriotism and love for your country so please understand our love for ours.
Obama is a traitor who wants to put your lives in danger to rescue Al Qaeda insurgents.
Marines, please take a look at what your comrades think about Obama's alliance with Al Qaeda against Syria.
Your officer in charge probably has no qualms about sending you to die against soldiers just like you, fighting a vile common enemy. The Syrian army should be your ally not your enemy.
Refuse your orders and concentrate on the real reason every soldier joins their military, to defend their homeland.
You're more than welcome to fight alongside our army rather than against it.
Your brothers, the Syrian army soldiers. A message delivered by the SEA
There are plenty of men and women who are willing to serve our nation without questioning the politics or policies of the Commander-in-Chief. They are willing to trust in the system and believe that our leaders will do the right thing. Therefore, it is OUR job, yours and mine, to make sure our President makes the right decisions. That's how it should work in a Democracy. The People should hold the President accountable. Whether that is through direct communication with the President or through your elected representatives, that is up to you. But to ignore that responsibility means that you place an additional burden on the men and women who serve our nation.
Have at it... let me know what you think in the comments below.