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Truman: a lesson for Pakistanis

November 13, 2012

THIS refers to my letter ‘Gen Powell: a lesson for Pakistanis’ (Nov 8). I was reminded of how a hero of the World War II and probably the most successful and popular general in US history was relieved of his command by Truman because of his differences with the American president over the conduct of the Korean war.

Civilian control over the military was an American tradition dating back to the founding of the republic. In his 1956 memoirs, Truman wrote:

“If there is one basic element in our Constitution, it is civilian control of the military.

Policies are to be made by the elected political officials, not by generals or admirals. Yet time and again Gen MacArthur had shown that he was unwilling to accept the policies of the administration.

By his repeated public statements he was not only confusing our allies as to the true course of our policies but, in fact, was also setting his policy against the president’s...

If I allowed him to defy the civil authorities in this manner, I myself would be violating my oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.”

This should be an eye-opener for all of us.