With the news of generals, and former generals, being investigated or forced to resign, this new bit of news could make one suspect that there is a giant cleaning house going on. However, considering the reason for demotion and forced retirement, abuse of government accounts, I suspect that this is as exactly as it appears. Now this doesn't mean that the government isn't making an example of someone, governments with corruption problems often do, but it is hard to feel sympathy for an individual who used government resources to shuttle his wife around for a shopping trip.
I, and I suspect many Americans, are no longer surprised or even shocked by this kind of thing, we've had a senator who, may have, participated in a scheme with a now imprisoned Governor so he could achieve a Senate seat he would never win in an election, a congressmen who was found to have tens of thousands of dollars in bribe money in his freezer, An New York Attorney General who visited prostitutes, all the while vigorously prosecuting men who visited prostitutes, A South Carolina Governor who disappeared to his Mistress in Brazil, Of course Illinois has had 4 governors go to prison for corruption; forgive me for being cruel but the state is getting exactly what it deserves in terms of economic malaise, a senator convicted for corruption, a congressman who is suspected of abusing campaign finances, and the list goes on and on regardless of party affiliation.
But what should be really troubling is that it was a career military officer, and not a civilian politician, and the type of punishment he received. Firstly, for the punishment, it was far too light. Yes it is light because, if the government was trying to make an example of someone, it might not want to have been too harsh for fear of exposing more corruption. The fact that a senior military official was abusing government resources, period not just in a time of crisis, is unacceptable. This isn't a mistake due to human error, it is abuse of power. If these allegations are true, then he should have been forced out of the military with a dishonorable discharge. Instead he will get a pension for over $200,000 a year.
Secondly, this is a senior military official! Corruption is bad enough in civilian government, it is deadly in a nations military. Remember, it was a corrupt military officers, in Rome they were also politicians, Marius, Sulla, and Caesar who each dealt blows to the republic until it could stand no more. When Octavius became Caesar Augustus the regime he ushered in still bore the trappings of a republic, but he was a strongman, an enlightened strongman but a strongman nonetheless, since the military was constitutionally put undo his control. The republic was replaced with a military regimes, and all totalitarian, many pre-enlightened era monarchies, and most empires, are military regimes. The Caesars first priority became the military, military, and the military.
This may not seem like anything too alarming, but it really is, and it leaves a sinking feeling in my stomach. The military is one of the few institutions that Americans have any respect for, civil government, the school system, and law enforcement having lost much of their credibility long ago. The military is also the only institution that could radically change how this country works. If enough officers decided, tomorrow, that they wanted to overthrow the civilian government, well there is nothing we could do to stop them; and I have a feeling many Americans would cheer the move on. But an institution that is becoming corrupt, while still maintaining respect with the populace, and holds a lot of power? Well that is a very volatile mix.