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Harold Hutchison / November 20, 2019

Civil Service Needs a Refresher Course on Constitution

Bureaucrats shouldn’t trump elected officials when it comes to setting policy.

As the pubic impeachment proceedings go on, it seems more and more obvious that we have been right to express our concerns about the bureaucrats who have always remained over the years even as presidents, senators, and representatives have come and gone. In fact, this impeachment is coming down to a simple question: Who makes the decisions?

Much has been made in the hearing about the career servants from the State Department or DOD who don’t see eye-to-eye with President Donald Trump’s policies. The government does need experts in what goes on around the world — it’s too much for a president to take in, even with the cabinet. But that being said, these people may provide advice and information. They can recommend a course of action.

That is all fine and dandy — but the person who was elected to make the decisions is the president of the United States. As of January 20, 2017, that office is held by Donald Trump. Within the constraints of the checks and balances established by the Constitution, President Trump has a lot of room to maneuver on foreign policy. Whether it’s Syria, Yemen, North Korea, or even how to deal with NATO.

Now, we at The Patriot Post have debated these issues. We have debated Iran, Iraq, and the War on Terror. We have raised our concerns about whether we have followed the proper constitutional procedures for getting into conflicts. But these are issues for the president and Congress to resolve, NOT career bureaucrats or military personnel.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman forgot that. Vindman did receive the Purple Heart for being wounded in action, but based on the testimony he gave behind closed doors, he’s also crossed a huge line.

Put it this way, in 1951, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was relieved of his command over his dispute with President Harry S Truman regarding how to fight the Korean War. Since then, there have been other cases. General Stanley McCrystal was forced out over comments by his staff that went public in a magazine article. Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a four-star general, was removed as CENTCOM commander by Barack Obama over the perception that he was too tough on Iran.

Each of these officers had careers that were far more distinguished than Vindman’s. Yet we’re supposed to defer to Vindman in his dispute over policy when MacArthur, Mattis, and McCrystal all had military careers end? We don’t think so — and we think that the very important principles of civilian control over the military and the primacy of elected officials over bureaucrats are at risk.

We had many disagreements with the Obama administration over some very poor policy decisions. Withdrawing from Iraq; halting programs like the Zumwalt, F-22, and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle; the Iran nuclear deal; dismantling the enhanced interrogation program; and the “reset” with Russia were foolhardy, and that’s a mild description.

Foolhardy or not, though, Obama had the right to make those decisions by virtue of winning the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. There were many who rightly criticized his foreign policy, and most of them make Syria and the Ukraine look minor. But if there had been even a tenth of the effort to form a “Resistance” to undermine Obama’s policies as there has been under Trump, it’s a very safe bet that the same media outlets and pundits celebrating people like Vindman and their efforts to undermine the foreign policy pursued by President Trump would be singing a different tune.

Which brings us to one other point we have mentioned before. America can survive a president with character flaws or who pursues bad policies. What America cannot survive is a sense that double standards are becoming enshrined. Right now, one party has been able to get away with Operation Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting the Tea Party, Wisconsin’s “John Doe” abuses, Operation Choke Point, efforts to use RICO against those who opposed the Left’s environmental policies, Spygate, and Andrew Cuomo’s attacks on the NRA.

Americans who want accountability on the part of those bureaucrats will run out of patience at some point. Better for the bureaucrats to be brought in line now, before things get to a dangerous point.

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