Mark Martins at Harvard Law School

by Kenneth Anderson

Jack Goldsmith notes at Lawfare:

Last Monday Harvard Law School conferred its medal of freedom on one of its graduates, General Mark Martins, Commander of the Rule of Law Field Force -Afghanistan.  The Harvard National Security Journal has just posted the speech, with slides, that General Martins gave for the occasion.

http://opiniojuris.org/2011/04/21/mark-martins-at-harvard-law-school/

One Response

  1. I well recognize that Harvard Law School may wish to honor one of its own and from the tone of the event that is described one can imagine the bonhomie in the room.  I also recognize that the military generals take on their tasks at the request of the civilians to whom they are ultimately responsible.  And those civilians are in turn put in place by our choices in our elections.

    With that having been said, after reading his speech and viewing the slides I did have a certain number of qualms.  It is in the nature of a general’s speech to not question the mission – at least publicly – and so we can understand why the tone is in the manner it is.  For me though,  I think  the tone is a bit too self-congratulatory for the United States, a bit too optimistic about the likely outcomes, and a bit too encouraging of amnesia by those listening.  I have seen these kinds of things done before so I take this opportunity as a lowly citizen but also a Harvard grad to step away from what must have been the ambient bonhomie in that room.

    I step away for reasons that no doubt seem so terribly boring and “vieux jeu” as the French would say.  First, I step away because of the illegitimacy of the entire Iraq operation from its inception and selling until its current setting.  The praising of various tactical decisions taken by brilliant people in what Americans have come to understand was a war started on a lie is just a little difficult for me to swallow.

    The downplaying of the detainee mistreatment with a variation on the “a few bad apples” meme we have heard so often and which we know is simply not true from so many sources such as the Senate Armed Services Committee report – really it is a bit much for me to take.

    I have demurred before on the hagiography for Jack Goldsmith and while I am sure that General Martins’ feelings are genuine – I permit myself to demur as to Jack Goldsmith’s advice due to the substantial critiques many have made over the years.  I recognize the aggressive rehabilitation efforts that go forward on so many levels by so many of the lawyers associated with the last Administration’s awful and profoundly shocking legal analyses in so many arenas, but I again would like to demur from walking down that path of acquiescence.

    As always, I await the accountability for those at the top end, not just the few soldiers who voluntarily carried the dirty water for their superiors and who were scapegoated.

    So, I hope that this expression of resistance to another attempt at getting us to acquiesce in things that should shock us does not appear to be done in a manner that insults General Martins or our soldiers.  It is not about them, but about the people above them – Refluat Stercus.

    Best,
    Ben

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. There are no trackbacks or pingbacks associated with this post at this time.