Gordon Brown has blocked General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, from being promoted to lead the armed forces because of his repeated calls for better pay and conditions for servicemen, senior Whitehall sources have disclosed. [The Times]So I asked myself - What would Gaius Marius do? Or rather, what did Marius do when faced with a similar situation?
In 109 BC Marius was serving as number two to the consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus (later, and of course spuriously Numidicus) in the was against Jugurtha. Marius felt that things were not going as well as they could, and that he, if in charge of the army, could do a better job. He decided to run as consul, so that he could take over the army. Metellus tried to block him, just as Gordo Brown is now blocking General Dannatt. Faced with no other option, since this would mean that his career had reached its peak, Marius decided to run anyway. He won election to the consulship for 107 BC. As consul he was given full command of the army, defeated and routed Jugurtha, and brought peace to North Africa. In fact, he proved to be so great a general that when the Romans feared the descent of the Germans in Italy, he too was put in charge of that war.
Marius was elected consul a record seven times, and declared the Savior of Italy. Had he not defied his 'betters' to stand for election, because he thought he could do a better job with the army .... Italy and Rome might well have been over-run by the Cimbri and Teutones.
For more details, see Sallust, Bellum Jugurthinum, at Lacus Curtius.
In the US anyone can run for president, including generals. Wesley Clark ran in 2004. In the UK, alas, General Dannatt does not have that option.