Is it dangerous to have that many generals in the White House? | The Tylt

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Is it dangerous to have that many generals in the White House?
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Supporters see the move as Trump doing exactly what he promised. They view the generals as tested and proven leaders who are able to get the job done. It's a departure from the norm, but that's why Trump was voted in. His supporters want to see change and this is it.

Having spent much of my career as a civilian within the Department of Defense, I have been fortunate to come to know Generals Mike Flynn, John Kelly, James Mattis, Stanley McChrystal, and David Petraeus. Each of them is far more qualified and far more committed to the nation’s interests than the individuals Obama put at the top of his national-security team, Dennis McDonough and Ben Rhodes. Having done work for or written books about all five of these generals, I can attest that each is a man of high character and intellect. Each has demonstrated skepticism about the use of military force — often greater skepticism than that expressed by civilian officials. As a result of decades spent studying and practicing the military arts, they know better than anyone what the military can and cannot accomplish, and how the military can be used most effectively in conjunction with diplomacy and aid. 

The fears that the generals could lead a coup is overblown. Retired generals have no real authority over soldiers, and for all intents and purposes, are civilians with nice uniforms.

In fact, when you think about it, what exactly do the civil-military relations alarmists fear? A coup? The very idea is preposterous. Yes, I used “coup” in my fictionalized essay as an attention-grabbing literary convention, but in the real world, there are a host of reasons it would not occur in the US. The biggest is that there is utterly nothing in our history to suggest that such thinking is any part of the American military’s culture or mindset.
Even if one wanted to attribute nefariousness to any of the retired officers being considered for civilian leadership positions (an outrageous suggestion in my view), there are a host of legal, institutional and, more importantly, practical reasons it would not occur. Although I realize it may be hard for some civilians to grasp this, it is laughable to think that a retired general of a particular service would have any sway over the mass of active duty troops if it was suggested to them to act in a way so obviously at odds with the Constitution. There are times when things really are that simple, and this is one of them.
#sayNoToJuntas

Putting these generals into power poses a risk because it shifts the relationship between the military and the civilian administration just enough to start a dangerous trend. Even if a coup does not happen in the next four years, it sets the stage for it to happen in administrations down the road. Critics argue that some doors should just be left closed.

The greatest risk posed by Trump’s rush to court the brass is the extent to which our military leadership may become, in reality or perception, a politicized institution. This might, as Dempsey surmised, lead “future administrations . . . to determine which senior [military] leaders would be more likely to agree with them before putting them in senior leadership positions.” In the short term, Trump may be satisfied with a politicized military that seems more responsive to him. In the long run, however, both the Trump administration and our national security will suffer if his appointments undermine the institutional integrity of the military and corrupt its leadership in service of political ends.
#sayNoToJuntas
This leads to the other, perhaps more important, reason to be concerned about recently-retired general and flag officers running major elements of the government: the politicization of the military. This may happen in two ways. First, the military may begin to become associated with one party over the other, robbing the profession of its historic political impartiality. Trump already claimed during his sit-down with The New York Times that the majority of the military voted for him. Now, by trading on the legitimacy of military officers in senior positions, the president-elect is attempting to align the military as an institution with his own political fortunes. Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey warned his fellow four-stars about such a possibility last August, observing that retired officers’ political endorsements are valued because they appear to represent those in uniform as a whole. Writing almost 17 years ago in The Washington Post, Richard Kohn observed:
A politically conscious military appears to be just one more pressure group acting to advance its views and interests, not the neutral institution of the state and the embodiment of the nation.
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Is it dangerous to have that many generals in the White House?
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#sayNoToJuntas
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