Slow Motion Coup

President Eisenhower made these observations on the eve of leaving office in 1961. Close on fifty years ago he warned of the dangers to America—heart, body, and soul—of a threat from the militarization of US social, economic, and political life. Little heeded, the concern he raised then has had two generations to work its work ever more surely than he foresaw. The consequence today is the militarization of our foreign policy and the dominance of the military in planning and implementing broad areas of domestic policy as well. It is, in effect, a slow motion coup in which increasingly military officers and military counsel dominates strategic thinking and significant parts of the political agenda, in a reversal of Clausewitz’s dictum that war is an extension of politics. Unlike most military coup d’etat, however, this is not the result of a small cabal of military officers plotting, ala Seven Days in May, to seize the government in a bold, overnight military take over. Instead, it has been years in the making and is the result of contributions from a broad spectrum of politicians, businessmen, think tanks and lobbyists, a complacent public, and the military responding to real and genuine threats to national survival for over 70 years. This is not a story, yet, of sinister conspirators. The question is, is there any way to undo what is done and walk back from a situation that so concerned Eisenhower for the fate of the country he served so long and so well.

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