William Astore Asks: Who Needs a Military Coup?

With the swearing in of John Kelly as White House Chief of Staff, a retired four-star Marine general now controls the White House. Another retired four-star Marine general, James Mattis, controls the Department of Defense (DoD) and much of the National Security State. Meanwhile, a serving three-star Army general, H.R. McMaster, controls the National Security Council.

Who needs a military coup? Remember when the U.S. was founded on civilian control of a citizen-soldier military? Those were the days. The point is not that Kelly-Mattis-McMaster constitute a military cabal; it’s that there’s no rival civilian authority at the upper regions of Trump’s government. Is Steve Bannon going to rein in the generals? He fancies himself a military strategist in his own right. Should we place our faith in Congress? How about Jared and Ivanka? Prospects for less bellicose policies are indeed looking grim.

Our clueless president, after all, professes love for “his” generals while acclaiming the WWII generals George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, two soldiers who were not known for their deference to civilian authority.

Again, who needs a military coup? As the real US military budget soars above a trillion dollars a year and as the US State Department is sidelined and gutted, the future of US foreign policy seems clear: More and more “kinetic” operations, together with more and more brinksmanship with Iran, North Korea, and possibly Russia and China as well.

With generals in the White House and the DOD running the show, advised by another general on the National Security Council, enabling a president whose patience and knowledge base are as thin as his skin, the prospects for catastrophic miscalculation and war loom ever larger.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

4 thoughts on “William Astore Asks: Who Needs a Military Coup?”

  1. There may be a silver lining in this cloud. Way before Trump the military-industrial complex reigned supreme, while presidents and Congress went along. Some cheerfully and with conviction– others “pragmatically” caved in for the benefits of their districts, or in case of Obama, to appear putting brakes on their gluttiny, while inventing verbal gymnastics to justify it all.

    But they are running the government in the rigid manner that is the only kne they know how, while probably being not too clever for the banking-high tech complex. One (banking-bigh tech) complex is greesing the political process, so politicians will enthusiastically spend money on the other (military industrial), while both use tmedia to keep the masses in check with fake news and plenty of mind numbing entertainment. Then came Trump. The danger to the above neat arrangement is real. Trump came out with positions on foreign policy that ridicules the established order. Points out the consequences to economy and people. Endless wars, entire regions of the globe destabilized. And people agreed — sending him to the White House. He did not come from nowhere. And there are many deeply unhappy interests in US that believed in the abilities of a businessmen and a reality show entertainer to motivate the segment of working, distinctly non-elite population, the kne that either stopped voting a while ago, or by habit support parties but deeply disappointed in both. It worked. What now? If one can get into the top office by popular support and AGAINST the wishes of both parties — that is the real danger to the power. But if you surround him with the military in civilian clothing — all will be well. Will it? The military for so long in service of money making cannot be good at really military things. Military has been hiding behind State Department to show that civilians are in charge. This has not been true for a long time. Nixon era was the watershed, but the apex came in Clinton’s era, when the global empire of military-industrial money making was fully embraced. Whoever did not believe in the new order was removed, retired or reasigned. Albreit era changed State Department into the arm of money greasing banking-high tech poser brokers, working hand in hand with military-industrial world.

    But the cracks alpeared in military-industrial a while ago. Industrial part became more alligned with banking-high tech, while military part essentially split into the top echellon of yes men, and the deeply unhappy rank and file. Pulpable unhappiness. Trump voters were military rank and file and veterans, his enemies among the top layer — but these could not be against him publicly — fearing the reaction of rank and file. Today, contrary to our “news” makers, State Departmrnt is being remade back into diplomatic service, and top brass is finging itself in a position to
    Play politics – fend for thrmselves, openly. And the soooo humanitarian banking-high tech and media complex are having no wigle room — but to SUPPORT the brass that surfounds Trump — applauding their openly belicose positions — from Syria and Russia on Iran. Trump is exploiting contradictions — even though media endlessly describes all he does as dumb. Examples are galore but one may be illustrative. When McMaster and Co. in NSC pushed for reviving the old cannard od chemical red line in Syria, and Trump obliged them — Tillerson and Chief of Staff Danford, disagreed. McMaster made Trump look stupid — something Trump was willing to play along. But I do not doubt that McMasters paid price for that.

    Now we have Pentagon isolated, given all the room to soar, on the battlefield and in the political offices. In the office, they are supported by all those that Trump voters see as problematic war mongerers. From Democrats, media, congressional uni-party money bags. In the field — worse. They CANNOT solve ISIS problem in Syria, as they never planned to solve it.
    But eventually, Trump will ficus on that — for now, it is the endless war in Afghanistan. No plan, no ideas what victory means, only desire to stay forever. It is the begging of questioning the military competence.

    And this is the potential silver lining. Miitary top that became part of the ruling power, over time becomes incompetent at military matters. Their judgement is clouded by considerations that have nothing to do with military capacity, strstegy or tactics. The military becomes part of a general political muddle through slugfest.
    One thing is to want a globalist governance, another thing is to convince/coerce others to go along. As more and more coercive methods are needed, more and more the inability of military to SOLVE problems becomes obvious. All Trump has go do is hold them accountable, not accept endless excuses. And promote from anti-globalist rank and file. We no longer really have a military in a classical sense. Many of its components are money making enterprises, intelligence privatized giving power
    of knowledge to various poser brokers.

    Good luck to Trump. But if se were a bit more observant we would have noticed which components of US industry are hurting — as this is where the Trump gets his support. As the pawns are being traded, the heavyweights on each side are still weighing their options.


  2. US has always been a military state! Follow the money and the WARS!!!! Ike knew the Truth! Pentagon/CIA/NSA/USA is out of control and when Empires end it gets Real Ugly.US paper Dollar is going down!! The world realizes the Ponzi scam the US is running and they will be switching from our paper to real gold and silver!! China is using our paper to buy up all they can before it goes down!!! How long can we keep up this charade? We can’t print our way out of debt or keep funding Wars/coups/R2P/False Flags.

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