Monday, October 5, 2009

The Totalitarian Impulse

Tom Friedman rightly came under fire a few weeks ago for writing in his NY Times editorial:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.

Yes, it certainly would be easier to get things done if you don't have to deal with all that messy democracy stuff.

This impulse is not confined to the left, of course. Over the weekend, Andy McCarthy from NRO posted the following exchange:

E: Hmm. I think the marines should be the commander in chief.
A: [Laughing, of course] I bet the marines would like that.
E: I mean, if we didn’t have the marines, what could Obama do?

Here, "A" is McCarthy and "E" is his son. It's possible to make too much of this innocent exchange with a 7-year-old. But clearly McCarthy is intrigued by this idea. Is it necessary to point out to him the reason why we have a civilian leading the armed forces, the historical reasons for this, and the advantages of doing so? It intermingles politics with war-fighting, and that's certainly messy, but the desire to undo that is no less dangerous than what Friedman yearns for.

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