America’s Political Turmoil Is Threatening the Norms of Civil-Military Relations

Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2016 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).
Former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2016 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).
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In 1992, the U.S. Army War College’s journal Parameters published a provocative article entitled “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012,” which critiqued the state of U.S. civil-military relations by imagining a fictional future military takeover of the government. The premise was that political leaders had essentially provoked the military to intervene in the political system by failing to respect their professionalism. The article caused a stir in part because its author, Charles Dunlap, was a serving U.S. Air Force lawyer, but mostly because the idea of a military intervention in the American political system was so inconceivable. […]

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