Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has staked his presidential hopes on a radical revamping of Washington’s political structure, reshaping the tax code, making the legislature part-time, enacting term limits on the Supreme Court, and closing multiple government agencies.
Perry took his radical new vision for America to a new level last night at the Iowa FAMiLY Leader presidential forum. Going against the Constitution, centuries of American history, and the wishes of our nation’s founders, Perry claimed that the United States military should not be “micromanaged” by civilians and needed military commanders to be “truly in charge”:
PERRY: There is a time and a place for us to intervene, and intervene militarily. But when we intervene militarily, we best make the decision on how we are going to win and how we are going to win convincingly and quickly, send those young men and women with the equipment to win. Don’t let some congressman sitting in an air-conditioned office in Washington DC deciding what the rules of engagement are. … And for us to micromanage them, in a civilian way, without their commanders truly in charge, is absolutely irresponsible and as commander-in-chief of this country I will not let it happen.
By design, the U.S. military has always been under civilian control. While the president acts as the military’s civilian commander-in-chief, Congress has the Constitutionally-mandated authority to apportion military funding and approve any declaration of war. The military’s nuclear weapons, meanwhile, are owned and controlled by the civilian Department of Energy (which Perry, incidentally, wants to abolish).
The civilian structure of the military Perry has no use for wasn’t an accident — it is the norm in liberal democracies and what America’s Founding Fathers wanted. As Samuel Adams wrote in 1768, “Even when there is a necessity of the military power, within a land, a wise and prudent people will always have a watchful and jealous eye over it.” The founders feared giving too much power to military could lead to an oppressive federal government, the specter of which Perry has built his entire political ideology against.
Not only is Perry’s Constitutional history lacking, but his knowledge of current events is too. American military commanders — whom Perry asserts aren’t currently in charge — back the timetable to begin removing troops from Afghanistan at the end of the year.