Enough with Political Endorsements from Retired Military Officers

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on November 27, 2017. It can be found online here (or PDF). 

Recently, Dan Helmer, a West Point graduate running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, released a list of eight retired generals and admirals he calls his “National Security Advisory Committee.” At the top is retired Lt. Gen. Dan Christman, who formerly served as superintendent at West Point (akin to a college president) while I was a cadet. I looked up to him then.

But I’m not so sure about that now.

Christman’s and other public endorsements from retired military officers are legal, but are nonetheless inappropriate and harm both the military and country. Most Americans are naturally prone to see these retired officers — especially retired admirals and generals — as representing the entire military. As such, one person’s individual endorsement necessarily trades on the military’s reputation in service of a party, ideology, or candidate. This pulls the military into partisan politics.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

Manitou race proves politics can be decent

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 3, 2017. It can also be found online here.

We’re now repeatedly reminded that Americans are intensely divided: a recent poll found “seven in 10 Americans say the nation’s political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War” and a writer recently opined that too many believe “politics needs to be weaponized to be enjoyed.”

Not in Manitou Springs. You may not have heard, but there’s a tight race for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Nicole Nicoletta, elected in 2015 to a two-year term, seeks another on Tuesday against a challenge from long-time resident and retired lawyer Ken Jaray. Continue reading “Manitou race proves politics can be decent”

On Strategy: More Than Just a Bridge

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

Strategy is abridge,” so sayeth Colin Gray, “because no other idea so well conveys the core function of strategy” which “connects two distinctive entities or phenomena that otherwise would be divided.” Gray then lays a gauntlet, that this metaphor is, of course, “open to challenge by pedants.”

So where do I sign up? I’m feelin’ up for some pedantry. Continue reading “On Strategy: More Than Just a Bridge”