What the hell is going on? U.S. military leaders speaking out–used as political props by Biden, and acquiescing


The separation of the military from politics has a long tradition in the United States.

Now, U.S. military leaders are speaking out to make political commentaries, and defend President Joe Biden’s policies, including his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, and the State and Defense departments’ botched implementation of that decision.

What the hell is going on?

See, e.g.,

1) Pratyush Kotoky, “Very good probability of civil war in Afghanistan: US General,” Yahoo News September 5, 2021 (6:33 a.m).

2) Victor Davis Hanson,”There’s a problem in the upper reaches of our military,” Tribune Content Agency, September 1, 2021.

General Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was used by Donald Trump when he made his famous walk over to Lafayette Park and the church where he held a bible upside down.

Now Biden and his administration are doing the same.

Are there no rules prohibiting active-duty military officers, especially high-ranking military officers, from shilling for Biden and Austin and Blinken?

There are in fact such rules. A lower-level officer can “self-immolate” and end his career by speaking out about Afghanistan.


Nick Niedzwiadek, Marine officer relieved of duty after calling out senior leaders about Afghanistan; “I am willing to throw it all away to say to my senior leaders, ‘I demand accountability,'” Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller said in a video message, ” Politico, August 27, 2021 (Updated: 04:01 PM EDT).

But the top generals? They now seem to be active and willing participants in the Biden Administration’s public relations effort to defend his disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal decision and its catastrophic implementation.

The Biden administration seems to regard our military leaders as members of the Administration’s speakers bureau, to be sent to Sunday news programs or trotted out for news conferences whenever it suits their political purposes.

This is not right.

It is a gross violation of the separation of politics from military leadership.

It is one thing for a military leader to speak out against a policy with which he or she fundamentally disagrees. That is honorable, though there are usually career consequences.

It is something entirely different for the president and his administration to use military leaders as instruments of political persuasion. That violates the most basic norms of civil-military relations.

Advice to Joe Biden and his apologists:


Advice to U.S. military leaders:


The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.