Home / Robert Farley / Whatever His Faults, Tricky Dick was Good for a Quote…

Whatever His Faults, Tricky Dick was Good for a Quote…


I’m slowly making my way through this– there’s some fairly interesting stuff regarding disputes between Nixon and Abrams on how airpower should be used in Linebacker I- but I wanted to pass along this nugget, from a conversation between Richard Nixon and CJCS Admiral Thomas Moorer:

Moorer: The flow shifts back and forth. And it’s very difficult, almost impossible, to run that from Washington. And so far as the reports to you are concerned, let me tell you right now, that if I am directed to give the reports you will get them precisely when you ask. But I am not running this reporting business. And I am passing the information up to the Secretary of Defense and it’s being run from up there, but it’s—
Nixon: Right. I am directing you—
Moorer: If you want me to do it, I can do it—
Nixon: I am directing you, and if the Secretary of Defense raises the questions, I am directing you. I have to have them directly, and they must be unsanitized. And also when an order goes, it’s got to go from me. The Secretary of Defense is not Commander in Chief. The Secretary of Defense does not make decisions on these kinds of things—
Moorer: I understand that, Mr. President—
Nixon: He’s a procurement officer. That’s what he is and not another goddamn thing. And from now on this has got to be done this way. So under these circumstances we can go. Now, getting back to this thing, let’s see what kind of an excuse is being developed here.

There’s nothing in particular wrong with what Nixon is asking, here; he’s certainly asserting his authority as commander-in-chief, although the idea that the Secretary of Defense should essentially be ignored by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs isn’t ideal for most models of civil-military relations. I invite you to consider, however, both the extent and volume of the howls that would emerge from the Right if a similar transcript emerged from a conversation between Obama and Mullen. The Weekly Standard would likely devote between 6 and 10 issues to this single snippet, and Victor Davis Hanson would never write anything about anything else ever again.

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