Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Decline of American Civilization
Mike Rappaport

I hate to sound like an old fogy, but the criticisms of Donald Rumsfeld by retired generals are another example of the violation of traditional norms that have served our country.  Such criticisms both undermine civilian control of the military and can be exploited by our enemies.  Norms of this sort are important and valuable but are increasingly ignored.  Retired Presidents used to avoid strongly criticizing the current President, especially when the criticisms would be made on foreign soil and would be about foreign relations.  But Presidents Clinton and Carter are happy to do it.   

I suppose that the country will continue to exist, even though these norms are violated. But the nation will change for the worse.  It will be harder to stay unified and to deal with one another in a civil way.  And that, in the long run, is a big concern. 

Take a look at Charles Krauthammer's thoughts on the subject.

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Decline of American Civilization
Mike Rappaport


The criticisms you mention won't make the nation worse. Rather, they are symptoms of the decrepit condition of the nation. In fact, as nationhood used to be understood, we no longer have a nation -- as evidenced, to take but one example, by the Left's resistance to the war on terror. What we have is a geographically defined collection of regionally, ethnically, politically, and culturally diverse identity groups. In that respect, what we ironically call the United States has become less coherent than at any time since the Civil War.

Posted by: Tom Anger | Apr 22, 2006 3:22:45 PM

I'd rather worry about the norms like not torturing people and the like. They seem rather closer to the edge of civilizatin to me than, say, retired generals pointing out (truthfully) that Rumsfeld has, by any possible account, made a has of Iraq. Or don't you agree?

Posted by: Matt | Apr 22, 2006 9:52:41 PM

What is troubling to me is the inconsistency of the criticisms: the war is immoral but we should have used more troops; it was too early to stop Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons, but too late to stop Iran; and so forth. If people object to the war as a whole, they should say so, rather than saying "we agree with the goals, but the conduct was incompetent." The conduct of World War II featured at least as many mistakes as Iraq, and with infinitely greater human consequences, but nobody said the President should be impeached as a result. All wars feature huge and costly errors; the side that can better afford them wins.

Posted by: Michael A. Livingston | Apr 23, 2006 4:39:16 PM