Four Stars: The Inside Story Of The Forty-Year Battle Between The Joint Chiefs Of Staff And America’s Civilian Leaders
By Mark Perry
Houghton Mifflin, 1989, 412 pp.
The subtitle is misleading, for this is an inside history of the joint chiefs of staff and of America's long quest for an integrated military. To be sure, there have been sharp disputes between the chiefs and their civilian masters-none more vivid than Perry's account of the chiefs' August 1967 vote to resign over the handling of Vietnam, a decision they later reversed. But such disputes are the stuff of civilian control in democracy. The real struggle has been to frame policies and advice to civilians that would reflect broad military calculations, not parochial service interests. Perry is optimistic about the most recent outcome of that struggle-the Goldwater-Nichols reorganization bill of 1986-but the verdict is not yet in.