Best Defense

Does Conformism Among Military Officers Create Conditions That Lead to Corruption?

Conformity enables corruption

The United States Seventh Fleet logo. (Wikimedia Commons)
The United States Seventh Fleet logo. (Wikimedia Commons)

I suspect that mental and social conformism is one of the conditions of an environment conducive to corruption, especially after I read about the number of Navy officers under investigation in the Pacific Fleet’s “Fat Leonard” scandal.

No, not all of them are guilty. But I bet almost all of them has some sense of what was going on. Many of them went along because everyone was doing it. Few of them seemed to think it was their role to blow the whistle.

By contrast, I remember reading that the government of the Philippines at one point gave General Douglas MacArthur a big bag of money as a gift. Dwight Eisenhower, also at that point assigned to the Philippines, was offered a smaller amount. He turned it down because he thought it was unethical to accept something like that from a foreign government.

I’m glad it was Ike who became president in 1952, and not MacArthur. I continue to believe that Ike is one of our most under-rated presidents, and that he was succeeded by one of our most over-rated. But that’s another subject.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at Twitter: @tomricks1

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