Military Chief Warns Troops About Politics
By THOM SHANKER
Published: May 26, 2008
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has written an unusual open letter to all those in uniform, warning them to stay out of politics as the nation approaches a presidential election in which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be a central, and certainly divisive, issue.
“The U.S. military must remain apolitical at all times and in all ways,” wrote the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, the nation’s highest-ranking officer. “It is and must always be a neutral instrument of the state, no matter which party holds sway.”
Interesting that this reminder is coming out now, at a time when the war is even more unpopular than ever, the GOP is nixing troop pay raises and education benefits, and the military vote is no longer a surefire part of the Republican base. I’m sure that’s purely coincidental.
If only the Joint Chiefs had been worried about this a little sooner, we might have been spared embarassing photo ops like this:
Troops Put In a Good Word to Bush About Iraq
10 U.S. Soldiers Upbeat in Staged Teleconference
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, October 14, 2005; Page A02
President Bush yesterday sought to rally U.S. troops behind his Iraq strategy -- and he and his aides left little to chance.
Before the president spoke via a video link, his event planners handpicked 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry and one Iraqi soldier, told them what topics the president would ask about, and watched them briefly rehearse their presentations before going live.
The soldiers did not disappoint. Each one praised the president, the war and the progress in training Iraqi troops. Several spoke in a monotone voice, as if determined to remember and stay on script.
Whew, that was embarrassing. I wonder if Adm. Mullen's reminder means we’ll be spared campaign ads like this one come fall:
MIAMI, Oct. 28 - President Bush's campaign said Thursday that it was replacing one of its closing advertisements after acknowledging that it included an image that had been doctored to increase the number of soldiers appearing to listen to Mr. Bush.
The actual photograph used in the commercial showed Mr. Bush speaking from a lectern with the soldiers behind him. But Mr. McKinnon said the editors were asked to crop Mr. Bush to focus on the soldiers.
I don’t condone using our soliders as advertising tools and campaign props by anyone. I’m just curious why the Join Chiefs thought it was okay for President Bush to do so.