America's Slow-Motion Military Coup

Authored by Stephen Kinzer via The Boston Globe,

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. They do not put on their ribbons to review military parades or dispatch death squads to kill opponents, as members of old-style juntas did. Yet their emergence reflects a new stage in the erosion of our political norms and the militarization of our foreign policy. Another veil is dropping.

Given the president’s ignorance of world affairs, the emergence of a military junta in Washington may seem like welcome relief. After all, its three members are mature adults with global experience — unlike Trump and some of the wacky political operatives who surrounded him when he moved into the White House. Already they have exerted a stabilizing influence. Mattis refuses to join the rush to bomb North Korea, Kelly has imposed a measure of order on the White House staff, and McMaster pointedly distanced himself from Trump’s praise for white nationalists after the violence in Charlottesville.

Being ruled by generals seems preferable to the alternative. It isn’t.

Military officers, like all of us, are products of their background and environment. The three members of Trump’s junta have 119 years of uniformed service between them. They naturally see the world from a military perspective and conceive military solutions to its problems. That leads toward a distorted set of national priorities, with military “needs” always rated more important than domestic ones.

Trump has made clear that when he must make foreign policy choices, he will defer to “my generals.” Mattis, the new junta’s strongman, is the former head of Central Command, which directs American wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Kelly is also an Iraq veteran. McMaster has commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan almost without interruption since he led a tank company in the 1991 Gulf War.

Military commanders are trained to fight wars, not to decide whether fighting makes strategic sense. They may be able to tell Trump how many troops are necessary to sustain our present mission in Afghanistan, for example, but they are not trained either to ask or answer the larger question of whether the mission serves America’s long-term interest. That is properly the job of diplomats. Unlike soldiers, whose job is to kill people and break things, diplomats are trained to negotiate, defuse conflicts, coolly assess national interest and design policies to advance it. Notwithstanding Mattis’s relative restraint on North Korea, all three members of Trump’s junta promote the confrontational approach that has brought protracted war in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, while fueling tension in Europe and East Asia.

Our new junta is different from classic ones like, for example, the “National Council for Peace and Order” that now rules Thailand. First, our junta’s interest is only international relations, not domestic policy. Second, it did not seize power in a coup, but derives its authority from the favor of an elected president. Third and most important, it main goal is not to impose a new order but to enforce an old one.

Last month, President Trump faced a crucial decision about the future of America’s war in Afghanistan. This was a potential turning point. Four years ago Trump tweeted, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan.” If he had followed that impulse and announced that he was bringing American troops home, the political and military elite in Washington would have been stunned. But junta members swung into action. They persuaded Trump to announce that instead of withdrawing, he would do the opposite: reject “rapid exit” from Afghanistan, increase troop strength, and continue “killing terrorists.”

It is no great surprise that Trump has been drawn into the foreign policy mainstream; the same happened to President Obama early in his presidency. More ominous is that Trump has turned much of his power over to generals. Worst of all, many Americans find this reassuring. They are so disgusted by the corruption and shortsightedness of our political class that they turn to soldiers as an alternative.

It is a dangerous temptation.

Comments

Paul Kersey 07564111 Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:24 Permalink

Trump has the power and authority to fire his Generals at any time. It was Trump's choice to give them power in the first place. Just as it was Trump's choice to give the Goldmanites power in the first place. Trump has chosen to dump Bannon while keeping the Generals and the Goldmanites.

In reply to by 07564111

Luc X. Ifer Paul Kersey Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:37 Permalink

Agree. I think the good reason is that Trump has seen how bad the situation is and that to save what can be saved anymore from America a military controlled governement may be the only choice not ideal but the tough solution for tough/extreme times. This is actually the purpose of the army in a country to save it when the call is for it. America is under treat to be overtaken by Left Fascism aka Communism and luckily they didn't manage to place their puppet leader at the WH however, they are rabid dogs trying continuously to place the seeds of social turbulence and collapse the society so, practically America is at war internally.

In reply to by Paul Kersey

Luc X. Ifer Luc X. Ifer Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:57 Permalink

BTW, it seems blood started to be drawn due to loss of mafia money invested in the shady Toronto' real estate - realtor pays with life for probably providing bad investment advice just before housing started to collapse in Toronto

http://www.cp24.com/news/realtor-spoke-to-gunman-seconds-before-fatal-s…

http://www.cp24.com/news/man-fatally-shot-inside-downtown-restaurant-wa…

http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/toronto-real-estate-broker-identified-as-vict…

In reply to by Luc X. Ifer

Luc X. Ifer chumbawamba Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:27 Permalink

Well, the fact that I don't hold beliefs in any imaginary flavour of a messiah shall help you get a glimpse at my true mechanism of reading in the surrounding reality :), all I know factually is that in this mesiah'less reality all what matters for the great human ape driven by the urge to secure it's genetic material survival is to stay on top of the other human apes by any means. So yeah, you can take your delusional mesiah and push it into your butt hole - please capture the event on your cell and publish it for our entertainment on thy youtube pr0n channel.

In reply to by chumbawamba

Luc X. Ifer Paul Kersey Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:44 Permalink

Trump didn't fired Bannon; Bannon was of limited use anymore and it would have satisfied only his ego to fight and remain a part of the WH staff. Both Trump and Bannon knew that Bannon would be of much better use and efficient for their grand scheme as unleashed pitbull untied and unrestrained by the rules of the court,

In reply to by Paul Kersey

God is The Son Luc X. Ifer Tue, 09/19/2017 - 07:37 Permalink

Bannon went back to BRITBUTT, BRITBUTT is nothing but a phoney Consertive News Media Outlet to brainwash it's followers to follow ZIONISTS INTERESTS. TRUMP is Zionist ASSET, his nothing but 1 of their DOGS, BRITBUTT ROLE is to keep Americans manuplated, keep them supporting TRUMP.The same can be said about Infowars, Rebel News, FOX News. Their Fake Consertive Zionist Right.

In reply to by Luc X. Ifer

Luc X. Ifer 07564111 Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:28 Permalink

Agree that military controls the WH now so a junta practically however, I think this is a different kind of junta than the enumerated ones, I think in this case these are good american citizens who know how bad the situation is at home and they love their country and if the case is that the only way to save it from total breakdown socially and economically is to impose and strengthen a military controlled governement they have the authority, the following and the baking in the forces to do it.

In reply to by 07564111

TBT or not TBT dogismycopilot Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:13 Permalink

The coup happened back in the progressive era, when politicians started corrupting the populace, and vice-versa, with the notion we could vote ourselves goodies from the public treasury and and get the good life that way.   We went from representative Republic to democracy.   The latter always turn into tyrannies.    The 0% you get on your savings.  That's tyranny.  

In reply to by dogismycopilot

Chupacabra-322 Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:14 Permalink

Global Research had this on 1 July:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/color-revolution-comes-home-are-americans-a...
From the article:

“…The corporate media consistently hammers home RussiaGate, despite the lack of evidence to support it. Unlike the Watergate or Iran-Contra scandals, there is no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to get elected. And, the security state – the FBI and the agencies that conduct regime change operations around the world – is working to undermine Trump in a still unfolding domestic coup….”

A Fascist bald Scum Fuck & three grey haired old men that deserve no less than to be taken out back Hung & Shot to Death.

vato poco Khan Bucklin Tue, 09/19/2017 - 01:52 Permalink

an interesting notion. as someone who grew up in a military town, I know good & damn well that any officer above the rank of Major/Lt Cmdr got that rank by playing politics. (except maybe in a world war). have known & dealt with mucho brass, and I don't trust them - or the military in general - at all. however, I trust them much more than I trust lawyers and politicians and CEO's and teachers and cops and bureaucrats (but I repeat myself). 

In reply to by Khan Bucklin

bobdog54 JRobby Tue, 09/19/2017 - 08:06 Permalink

Never a prez more sketchy than BO, nor his academic group of cabineteers or ruling czars. Such short memories of 8 lost years. Not to say, many of his predators, I mean predecessors, where not absorbed in the cesspool of D.C.

As you mentioned and allow me too correct "it's pretty fucked up" - it's very fucked up. We can only hope he's a damn good 3D chess player or it's bloody times ahead....

In reply to by JRobby

Mr. Class and … Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:17 Permalink

To say military leaders at that level don't understand the stategic reasoning for going to war is idiotic. Politicians and diplomats get their jobs with little or no experience in what they're actually doing, but more likely by who they know and who they were born to.Generals lead militaries in wars, but that doesn't mean they love war. Sure, some do, but most know better than any politician or diplomat the cost of war.

navy62802 Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:21 Permalink

While it is worrisome that a group of former high ranking military officers hold this much sway over the elected president, I am far more worried by the blatant crimes that have been committed by Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Lois Lerner, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Barack Obama, and Cheryl Mills (among many others) that continue to go unprosecuted. There is a dizzying number of blatantly criminal acts that were committed under Obama, especially during the last few months and weeks of his presidency that continue to go unaddressed by the DOJ. Where is Jeff Sessions? Is he still alive? Where is the FBI? What in the fuck is going on in Washington? I feel like something secret and very fucking bad is happening in Washington right now.

navy62802 JohnG Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:16 Permalink

I feel like it has never been this blatant and out in the open. I mean it is like "I'm committing this crime right now, what the fuck are you going to do about it?" I've never seen that. From my memory, there were a few sporadic cases of that sort of thing, but the last 9 - 12 months have been a straight up hurricane of high crimes that are blatantly obvious to even the casual observer. And none of them have been prosecuted. At least in the past, some of them were prosecuted to keep up appearances. They're not even trying to keep an appearance of law and order in Washington anymore. And that's what worries me.

In reply to by JohnG

looseal navy62802 Tue, 09/19/2017 - 15:26 Permalink

Agree, this is very concerning.  Additionally, when did the U.S. have a $20t deficit?  When was deficit 105% of GDP?  When did we see an 11% shrinking of the middle-class over a 10 year period?  When did politicians make promises to the average person that cannot be delivered (i.e., social security, Medicare,  government pensions) to a vast number of voters?  

In reply to by navy62802