Sunday, January 08, 2006

Why Not Just Fire Admiral Cain? (BG Spoilers)

The Corner discusses why, on the season premiere of Battlestar Galactica, the President doesn't just fire Admiral Cain, rather than urging Adama to kill her. I believe that the reason for this is that the 12 Colonies follow a Turkish model of civil-military relations, rather than an American model.

It is apparent from the context of the show that President Roslyn is not the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. As the head of state, she is empowered to give the military broad direction. She could ask Adama to change a policy or to take an action, and he would give her views due consideration. She can declare war or make peace, and in this the military is obliged to follow the civil government (note that the military did not press the war against the Cylons even though the peace was obviously just a breathing space for the Cylons to rebuild overwhelming power). However, it seems that the military and civil governance maintain separate spheres of power relations - and that the military has the upper hand on most questions, not the civilian. As in the Turkish model, the professionalism and civic spirit of the military forestall abuse of the system and prevent a military dictatorship.

Americans often forget that our model of ultimate civilian control over military questions is not the only viable model. I believe it is the best model - it would be a lot harder for us to fall into a military dictatorship than it would be for Turkey to do so - but the Turkish system works well, too. Under the Turkish model, the culture and training of military officers becomes very important in ensuring the existence of a relatively free state.

And Battlestar Galactica does explore that issue, in the interstices between exploring free will vs. determinism, atheism versus a creator God, and good vs. evil. Which is one reason among many that it's the best show on television.

Update: Welcome NRO readers. Look around, lie on the furniture, kick the cats. Make yourself at home.

Update 2: Welcome readers from As I can't read your forum, not being a naval officer, I have no idea what the link there says; I am praying to God that it isn't "hey, check out what this complete idiot has to say". Go Navy!


Gahrie said...

I tend to agree with you. In fact, that's the explicit deal Adama makes with Roslin at the end of the mini-series: "You'll be in charge of the fleet, military decisions stay with me."

President Roslin never orders Commander Adama to do anything, she asks and persuades him. When Adama is shot, and Col Tigh takes command, Roselin makes no attempt to remove Tigh from command, even when he declares martial law and has her imprisoned.

It certainly appears that the military has much more independence from civilian control in BG than in the US.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Is it entirely clear that Admiral Cain isn't being bad-mouthed by a Cylon infiltrator - her own XO?

Doug said...

Those are some great points. Somewhat off-topic, let me just say- I know who's pointing the gun at Cain! And it isn't Starbuck! (Hint:Look at the wrist!)

flint cordoroy said...

It is interesting that, much like the Americas own entangling expeditionary campaigns, the Earth of Battle Star Galactica remix is in conflict that resulted from the military-industrial complex trying to make more money.

I've seen enough of the show to realize it is a boring, uncharismatic retread of the original Battlestar Galactica mixed with a cartoon called Exo-Squad.

Gahrie said...

1) You haven't watched enough.....they aren't from earth.

2) Their problems aren't a product of the military-industrial comples, they're the fault of a fifth column infiltrating and undermining their military and society. The crucial traitor was a scientist, not a businessman, and he was after fame and prestige, not wealth.

3) The only thing the current series has in common with the original series are the names. The series has absolutely nothing to do with exo-squad.

Don't look now, but your ignorance is showing.

WhatsAPundit said...

Flint, you must just be the life of the party in whatever passes for real life.

Please note that I'm not assigning any valadity to your pontifications. I'm just saying, right or wrong, we're talking about some seriously negative energy going on here.

flint cordoroy said...

Just last month I watched the last 20 minutes of an old episode of Battlestar Galactica. The intensity of Dirk Benedict's performance and Lorne Greene's portrayal of a robust and gregarious Admiral Adama made me optimistic for more.

The new one was so boring I couldn't stand it, but read about it online once. It makes Star Trek: Enterprise look good. Maybe it resembles Earth: Above and Beyond more closely than Exo-Squad.

teh l4m3 said...


"The crucial traitor was a scientist, not a businessman, and he was after fame and prestige, not wealth."

Actually, they took advantage of his being after some leggy, blonde Cylon trim.

flint cordoroy said...

I've reviewed the wikipedia entry on Battlestar Galactica and determined th e Cylons of the new series were indeed descended from sentient robots designed to save labor costs.

Aliera Kieron said...

For that matter, with the evidence from Adama (and, one would assume, the ship's logs) why not just charge her with crimes against humanity and remove her from her command? I know they don't have the Geneva Convention per se, but I'd be awfully surprised if there wasn't some kind of equivolent.