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Structure of a Coup d’Etat

August 1, 2017

Civilian control of the military is a long tradition going back to the American revolution when a civilian army was fashioned to fight the British. After Independence resistance to a standing army was intense and only gradually did the United States develop professional army and navy resources commensurate to its power.

It became common practice that Cabinet agencies of the federal government were managed by civilians and the National Security Act of 1947 that created the Defense Department that also made it a requirement that only civilians could lead the department.  Service agencies also were required to be led by civilians.

Gradually, however, the appointment of former Generals and Admirals came into prominence.  Here is a list.

Ronald Reagan

Al Haig, Secretary  of State

Colin Powell, National Security Council

George H. W. Bush

Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor

George W. Bush

Colin Powell, Secretary of State

Barack Obama

Eric Sheseki, Veterans Affairs

The damn burst with the election of President Donald Trump who did not serve in the U.S. military but has demonstrated a loyalty and fondness for former General and Flag Officers.  Some point to President Trump’s education at New York Military Academy where his parents sent him when they felt he needed to acquire discipline.

Donald Trump

James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense

Ryan Zinke,  Secretary of Interior

John F. Kelly, Homeland Security and Chief of Staff

Michael T. Flynn, National Security Advisor

H.R. McMaster, National Security Advise

With former Generals at Defense, Homeland Security and an Admiral at the National Security Council, not to mention appointment of a retired Navy Seal at the Interior Department, President Trump has abandoned the principle of civilian control. The structure for a coup d’etat is in place.

 

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