Why the President Shouldn’t Outsource Military Authority By Luke Perry
Senior cabinet and military advisers have developed new strategy to “start winning” again in Afghanistan. National Security Adviser McMaster has made several positive changes since replacing Michael Flynn, as I’ve written about, but his push to provide broader military authority to set troop numbers and launch airstrikes is not a good idea.
Whether victory in Afghanistan is definable, let alone attainable, is unclear, well after the conflict has become America’s longest war. Al-Qaeda has been severely weakened. Osama Bin Laden has been dead for years. Lack of military might has hardly been the problem in fighting the Taliban. In 2016, the U.S. dropped over 26,000 bombs.
The “how” is as important as the “what.” President Trump’s didn’t directly authorize the recent deployment of the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan, instead broadly authorizing the military to make the determination.
America has a long tradition of civilian control of the military. It’s the main reason that even in these divided times no one worries about a military coup. Trump is not the first modern president to blur the line of command, but he needs to be the last.
The presidency is the only elected official who represents all Americans. Making decisions for the most powerful military in world history is among the greatest responsibilities of this office. Gathering input is wise. Outsourcing command is not.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Professor of Government at Utica College. His column Sound Off! critiques various aspects of presidential politics.