Obama's Joint Chiefs Playing Foreign Policy Politics; Inappropriate Behavior for Uniformed Military Leaders

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Obama's Joint Chiefs Playing Foreign Policy Politics; Inappropriate Behavior for Uniformed Military Leaders


Byline: Adm. Steven B. Kantrowitz and Capt. Lawrence B. Brennan, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Shortly after the Sept. 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called obscure Florida minister Terry Jones to urge him not to support the now-infamous anti-Islam online film. No one should be silencing Americans, much less the senior uniformed person in our military. The only exception would be if forces were moving to an objective and there was a reasonable request for an embargo to let our armed forces engage without advance notice to our enemies.

A military leader telephoning American citizens to censor them is repugnant - more odious even than civilian political leaders doing it. That is not to say the film in question was not amateurish, nasty and repellent. It was.

Regardless, the apparent political motivation is cause for concern. Gen. Dempsey made his appeal to the Rev. Jones right after the horrific assault on our consulate in Benghazi. Gen. Dempsey was advancing the ruling party line, attempting to bolster the administration's explanation of the attack: that the assault and the murder of four Americans, including our ambassador, were caused by spontaneous anger over the anti-Islam film. Shamefully, the administration's political appointees, particularly U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, claimed the film caused the attack. At best, it was a sophomoric mistake. At worst, it was a partisan gambit to help the administration this election season.

By making that phone call, Gen. Dempsey gave the administration's alibi credibility and wrongfully, a military imprimatur. Reports in the weeks following have made increasingly clear that the film had nothing to do with the attack. Critically, the administration knew within hours - possibly minutes - that it was a well-organized and professionally executed terror plot. An attack on a highly significant symbol of America, its consulate and ambassador, on Sept. 11 - a date of such self-evident significance to our bloodthirsty enemies - should have been no surprise. Islamists do not need an obscure, months-old film as a motive for an attack on an underdefended outpost.

The U.S. military's ability to prevent or respond to the attack in Benghazi was seriously impaired by the inexplicable absence in the Mediterranean Sea of a carrier strike force or an amphibious force, including a large-deck ship with robust aviation assets. The decision to leave the Med "naked" not only contributed to the brazen attack on Benghazi but also impeded diplomatic and police efforts to secure the consulate compound. That should have been Gen. Dempsey's focus, not attempting to deal with an anti-Islam film.

Shortly before the attack, Gen. Dempsey was quoted as saying he did not want to be complicit with the Israel Defense Forces if they chose to carry out a military campaign to stop the Iranian government in its continuing march toward nuclear weapons. …

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