Xinhua Daily Telegraph, China
How America Finds and Disciplines
How America Finds and Disciplines
By Sun Hao
Translated By Yuzhi Yang
3 July 2014
Edited by Kyrstie Lane
China - Xinhua Daily Telegraph - Original Article (Chinese)
There has been no lack of scandals in the U.S. military in recent years. Greed has tripped up numerous high-ranking military officers, including the source of pride for African-Americans in the military, William E. Ward. Ward was once the commander for U.S. Africa Command, a four-star general and the highest-ranking black officer in the U.S. military, yet he was still besieged by scandal on the verge of retirement.
The Office of the Inspector General at the Pentagon investigated for 17 months, and they found Ward had abused public funds, including allowing people such as his friends and family to use his official plane, as well as staying at luxury hotels and shopping at pricey boutique with public funds. The prosecutors realized Ward had taken an 11-day trip with a 13-person entourage, costing $130,000. It was over the line.
While Ward was scheduled to retire in April 2011, he had to postpone his retirement, was assigned to another post, and given a reduced rank; he finally retired as a lieutenant general. A year later, a little email incident managed to derail two more former and current high-ranking military officers.
Internal ethics investigators from the Department of Defense and the FBI’s external investigation [unit] managed to unveil the extramarital affair the retired four-star general and CIA Director David Petraeus had with his female biographer, which also implicated John Allen. The latter had just finished his duty as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan and was nominated as NATO’s top military commander by American President Obama.
Petraeus was once regarded as the top tough guy in the U.S. military’s post-9/11 era, and he was respected in the civilian world as well. He had a successful transformation from the military to the political world and was even seen as a hot candidate in the presidential elections. But as more details of the affair emerged, his close contact with the female writer in Afghanistan cast doubt on whether he could have leaked military intelligence. Petraeus was forced to resign in disgrace, ending his career, and losing his reputation.
The loss of personal reputation was one thing, but the media and the public had even more doubts about whether these high-level military officers jeopardized national security with their personal transgressions. The frequent military scandals also made the public ask questions. What is the problem? How do we fix it?
In America’s less than 300-year history, the era of severe corruption was actually not that long ago, and improvement of the anti-corruption system only came along in the last 30 years. When America transformed into an industrial nation, its exponential growth of national strength and its rapid industrial and commercial development gave corruption an ideal environment. The less-than-perfect system also meant America was once plagued by corruption.
The reform of the officer-employment system and the media’s growing scandal-breaking habit, as well as the stronger demand from the maturing middle class for cleaner politics and more ethical politicians have combined to make American society more aware of the abuse of power and added more pressure for anti-corruption efforts in legislation and law enforcement.
The Pentagon, having lost face with the Ward and Petraeus scandals, was forced to release plans for improving high-level military officers’ ethical conduct. They include: starting ethical training earlier in the military officer’s career, reviewing the assignment of adjacent staffers for a high-level military officer, etc. Obama also signed a law improving whistleblower protection at the end of 2012, protecting federal workers who expose government officials with corruption or abuse of power.
Anti-corruption work could not be done overnight nor be dependent on a perfect system; the system is not the only way to prevent the greed in human nature. One thing is certain: corruption will not disappear by itself. A healthier system and more effective efforts are still important weapons in anti-corruption.
A constantly improving system is the real way. The construction of an anti-corruption firewall is a 3-D project, requiring prevention, protection and fixes.http://watchingamerica.com/News/241956/how-america-finds-and-disciplines-its-high-level-military-officers/