Political Control Of The Military

Political Control of the Military

"No new taxes." This is a quote that most all of us remember
from the 1992 presidential election. Along with it we remember that
there were new taxes during that presidents term in office. There are
a myriad of promises made and things done in a presidential election
year that have questionable motives as to whether they are done in the
best interest of the people or in the interests of the presidential
candidate. These hidden interests are one of the biggest problems
with the political aspects of government in modern society. One of
the prime examples of this is the Vietnam War. Although South Vietnam
asked for our help, which we had previously promised, the entire
conflict was managed in order to meet personal political agendas and
to remain politically correct in the world’s eyes rather than to bring
a quick and decisive end to the conflict. This can be seen in the
selective bombing of Hanoi throughout the course of the Vietnam War.
Politically this strategy looked very good. However, militarily it
was ludicrous. War is the one arena in which politicians have no
place. War is the military’s sole purpose. Therefore, the U. S.
Military should be allowed to conduct any war, conflict, or police
action that it has been committed to without political interference or
control because of the problems and hidden interests which are always
present when dealing with politics
United States involvement in the Vietnam War actually began in
1950 when the U. S. began to subsidize the French Army in South
Vietnam. This involvement continued to escalate throughout the 1950’s
and into the early 1960’s. On August 4, 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin
incident occurred in which American Naval Vessels in South Vietnamese
waters were fired upon by North Vietnam. On August 5, 1964 President
Johnson requested a resolution expressing the determination of the
United Sates in supporting freedom and in protecting peace in
Southeast Asia (Johnson). On August 7, 1964, in response to the
presidential request, Congress authorized President Johnson to take
all necessary measures to repel any attack and to prevent aggression
against the U. S. in southeast Asia (United States). The selective
bombing of North Vietnam began immediately in response to this
resolution. In March of the following year U. S. troops began to
Although the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution specifically stated
that we had no military, political, or territorial ambitions in
southeast Asia, the interests back home were quite a different story
(Johnson). The political involvement in Vietnam was about much more
than just promised aid to a weak country in order to prevent the
spread of communism. It was about money. After all, wars require
equipment, guns, tools and machinery. Most of which was produced in
the United States. It was about proving America’s commitment to stop
Communism. Or rather to confine communism in its present boundaries
But most of all it was about politics. The presidential political
involvement in Vietnam had little to do with Vietnam at all. It was
about China for Eisenhower, about Russia for Kennedy, about Washington
D.C. for Johnson, and about himself for Nixon (Post). The last two
of which were the major players in America’s involvement in regards to
U. S. Troops being used (Wittman).
The military involvement in Vietnam is directly related to the
political management of the military throughout the war. The
military controlled by the politicians. The micro management of the
military by the White House for political gain is the primary reason
for both the length and cost, both monetary and human, of the Vietnam
War (Pelland). One of the largest problems was the lack of a clear
objective in the war and the support to accomplish it. The
predominant military opinion of the military’s role in Vietnam in
respect to the political involvement is seen in the following quote by
General Colin Powell, "If you’re going to put into something then you
owe the armed forces, you owe the American People, you owe just you’re
own desire to succeed, a clear statement of what political objective
you’re trying to achieve and then you put the sufficient force to that
objective so that you know when you’ve accomplished