"The president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk that I was originally prepared to accept," Admiral Mullen said. ... Petraeus said, "the ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended." ... Petraeus said he supports the president's decision and will carry it out, but he refused to say he is comfortable with it.Robert Kagan claims military commanders "know Obama's decision is a disaster."
The entire military leadership believes the president’s decision is a mistake, and especially the decision to withdraw the remainder of the surge forces by September 2012. They will soldier on and do their best, but as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, put it, in characteristic understatement, they believe the decision will increase the risk to the troops and increase the chance that the mission will not succeed.Let's assume this is true, and the statements by Mullen and Petraeus indicate that it might be. Kagan writes,
Under our Constitution, military leaders have no choice but to endorse the president’s decision after giving him their best advice. They could resign, of course, but to have the entire senior military leadership resign over a president’s decision contrary to their advice would be a disaster, and not least for the troops on the ground.Kagan is dead wrong. If our military leaders truly believe that the president's decision is disaster done for political reasons, they have a duty to resign in protest. You can't have it both ways. If you go along with the president, then you automatically sign off on the plan. When you get to the level of a General Petraeus or an Admiral Mullen, you have a duty to resign if you feel that the president is doing the wrong thing and will harm U.S. national interests.
When is the last time a high-ranking officer resigned in protest of a presidential policy decision on military affairs? Today we have military officers who don't want to end their careers, and just go along with things they supposedly feel are terrible decisions. In my opinion that's an abdication of responsibility.