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Elite Moral Decline Affecting Military

Walter Russell Mead

The Washington Post reports on a case of military malfeasance that, despite its amusing sobriquet, speaks to a genuinely appalling collapse of ethical standards:

The Justice Department unsealed a fresh indictment Tuesday charging eight Navy officials — including an admiral — with corruption and other crimes in the “Fat Leonard” bribery case, escalating an epic scandal that has dogged the Navy for four years. […]

The Navy personnel are accused of taking bribes in the form of lavish gifts, prostitutes and luxury hotel stays courtesy of Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has pleaded guilty to defrauding the Navy of tens of millions of dollars.

As ethical standards slide across the American political system, the country has come to depend more and more on the integrity of its people in uniform. But the military cannot be immune to the cultural slide away from the higher moral standards of past generations.

The overwhelming majority of men and women in the U.S. military who hold themselves to the highest personal and professional standards. But over time those numbers will decrease—unless American society as a whole can recover the moral balance that was once a defining characteristic of this country.

We cannot walk away from the moral and spiritual foundations of American greatness without losing our freedom and power and wealth. It is clear enough today that from the White House down, too many people in public life are unwilling to make the sacrifices and enforce the standards that a free society demands.

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