FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Unbecoming Conduct

 

What defines conduct unbecoming an officer?

Major General Thomas Fiscus, judge advocate general of the Air Force, opposed the harsh interrogation techniques approved and later rescinded by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use on Guantanamo prisoners. Subsequently, General Fiscus has been reprimanded for a dozen sexual affairs during the last decade and may face disbarment proceedings.

As the affairs were consensual with civilian and military women, one doesn’t know whether the general is being punished for sticking up for human rights or whether the US military thinks abstinence is a requirement of general officers, with sexual license left to the Dominitrix of Abu Ghraib.

Punishing a general for sex is inconsistent with the macho “burn, kill and destroy” image being cultivated by the US military in Iraq. Can an imperial army be commanded by saints?

Gen. Fiscus’ punishment is unlikely to stifle sex in the military. His punishment can, however, be defended as an attempt to uphold rules against fraternization and conduct unbecoming an officer. However impractical these old rules might be in a military integrated with women and homosexuals, it these rules are not enforced, other rules will go by the wayside, and the rot of demoralization will take hold.

What jumps out from this reasoning is the extent to which the US military, which abandoned the Geneva Conventions against prisoner torture and the US War Crimes Act of 1996, is being a stickler at enforcing its rules against sexual affairs. Is the military clutching the rule against fraternization closely to its breast because it is the only rule the military has left?

Alas, such may indeed be the case. White House Counsel and Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales advised President Bush in January 2002 that all laws and conventions against torture could be swept away simply by declaring detainees to be outside the protection of law and international agreements. Gonzales advised President Bush to turn his back on the “obsolete” and “quaint” requirements in the Geneva Conventions for the humane treatment of prisoners. A year later a Pentagon task force reasoned that the president had the authority to approve any policy needed to protect the nation’s security.

These are the “moralists” who are compelling General Fiscus to retire at a lower rank because he misbehaved with a dozen women.

Numerous reports, including reports from the FBI, have made it clear that torture of prisoners is more widespread than the White House has admitted. Numerous reports have made it clear that US troops, whether from confusion, fear, or sport have slaughtered Iraqi civilians. Marines destroyed the city of Fallujah, and the commander on the scene claimed no Iraqi civilians were killed.

But General Fiscus has behaved unbecomingly.

President Bush, VP Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and being involved with the September 11 terrorist attack on the US. The consequences of these lies: tens of thousands of dead Iraqi civilians and countless others wounded, Iraq’s infrastructure in ruins, 1,325 dead US troops and another 21,000 maimed and wounded and the toll is mounting, 150,000 US troops tied down by a few thousand ragtag insurgents, US alliances and reputation in tatters, and America roundly hated throughout the Middle East.

But General Fiscus behaved unbecomingly for an officer.

Yes, he did. And President Bush behaved unbecomingly for a commander in chief. Dick Cheney behaved unbecomingly for a Vice President. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz behaved unbecomingly for civilian leaders of the military.

But no one is being held accountable except General Fiscus.

Is this right? Is this what Americans want? Do we want to punish General Fiscus for violating “obsolete and quaint” rules against consensual sex but not punish government leaders who tell us lies about Iraq and get our sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, and daughters killed as a consequence? Do Americans really want to be led by people who believe in the efficacy of torture, military might and propagandistic manipulation of an unsuspecting public?

If so, where is the virtue that neoconservatives claim justifies American hegemony?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

 

 

More articles by:

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
CounterPunch News Service
Tribes Defeat Trump Administration and NRA in 9th Circuit on Sacred Grizzly Bear Appeal
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
Parth M.N.
Back to School in Rural India: Digital Divide to Digital Partition
Ed Sanders
The Burning of Newgate Prison: a Glyph
July 06, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?
JoAnn Wypijewski
On Disposability and Rebellion: Insights From a Rank-and-File Insurgency
Marshall Auerback – Jan Frel
There’s a Hidden Economic Trendline That is Shattering the Global Trade System
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Just and Talented Government for Our Hazardous Age
Manuel García, Jr.
Biosphere Warming in Numbers
Ron Jacobs
Kidnapping Kids: As American as the Fourth of July
Tasha Jones
Pyramids. Plantations. Projects. Penitentiaries
Binoy Kampmark
Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze
Eve Ottenberg
Re-Organizing Labor
Mike Garrity
How We Stopped Trump From Trashing a Critical Montana Roadless Area in Grizzly Habitat
Nino Pagliccia
The Meaning of the 1811 Independence for Today’s Venezuela
Michael Galant
We Need a Global Green New Deal
Jill Richardson
Learning Not to Look Away
Marshall Sahlins
Donald Trump at 130,000 and Rising
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail