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Why It’s OK for Obama To Ignore Military Advice

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“You just don’t take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do,” Mattis told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

The parade of serious military advice is a classic part of the march to war. The issue is not simply whether putting American forces into Iraq and Syria is the right strategy, but whether civilian policymakers should always listen to the nation’s military leaders when it comes to matters of national defense.

However, history tells us something different. There are many examples of American presidents ignoring military advice that would have led to disaster. In 1951 President Truman ignored General MacArthur’s advice about expanding the Korean War to mainland China. Instead, he started negotiating with the Communist Chinese – negotiations that eventually restored the status quo ante. In 1954 Eisenhower ignored the advice of Adm. Arthur Radford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who wanted to send American forces and firepower, including nuclear weapons, to bail out the French at Bien Dien Phu. The retired five-star general elected to begin negotiations in Geneva with the Communist North Vietnamese that granted them control over the northern half of the country.

There's just too many variables to know any outcome with certainty.

To paraphrase Richard Sheridan, "the problem with specialization is that the solution is almost always made to fit the specialty, not vice-versa."  I can't imagine a more high stakes specialty to have than being a high-ranking military official.  Get it right, glory; get it wrong, (other peoples') guts.

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