Charles A. Stevenson: Don't Rehabilitate General Lavelle

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[Charles A. Stevenson, a lecturer at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, is the author of “Warriors and Politicians: U.S. Civil-Military Relations Under Stress.”]

EARLIER this month the White House recommended that the Senate rehabilitate John D. Lavelle, an Air Force general who in 1972 was removed from his command in Vietnam and demoted to major general after he ordered unauthorized air strikes and created a system to falsely report them.

General Lavelle died in 1979, still professing his innocence. In recent years, though, evidence has emerged that seems to support his case, leading the Air Force to call for his reinstatement as a four-star general.

That would be a grave mistake. Having worked for a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee during its initial investigation into the Lavelle affair, I believe that his rehabilitation could seriously undermine civilian-military relations during our own time of war....

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