Saturday, September 01, 2007


Via Scott Horton, more on how military leadership has disgraced itself as a consequence of the abuses inflicted at Abu Ghraib. Let me quote at length an excerpt from this policy letter by General John D. Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, written in 1972 to his commanders in the wake of revelations of false reporting in Vietnam, reprinted in the 1979 book "War, Morality and the Military Profession":

"Integrity-which includes full and accurate disclosure-is the keystone of military service...In any crisis, decisions and risks taken by the highest national authorities depends, in large part, on reported military capabilities and achievements. In the same way, every commander depends on accurate reporting from his forces. Unless he is positive of the integrity of his people, a commander cannot have confidence in his forces. Without integrity, the commander in chief cannot have confidence in us.

Therefore, we may not compromise our integrity-our truthfulness. To do so is not only unlawful, but also degrading. False reporting is a clear example of a failure of integrity. Any order to compromise integrity is not a lawful order.

Integrity is the most important responsibility of command. Commanders are dependent on the integrity of those reporting to them every decision that they make. Integrity can be ordered by it can only be achieved by encouragement and example."

I find myself wondering if there is anyone today in the military hierachy who appreciates the value of integrity, honor and dignity as much as General Ryan appeared to. In the wake of the ass-covering that is the hallmark of the investigations into Abu Ghraib, I'd say the answer is clearly no.

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