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President Donald Trump addresses troops at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq. President Donald Trump addresses troops at Al Asad Airbase, Iraq, Dec. 26, 2018 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Could America’s Senior Military Leaders Ever Revolt Against Trump?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Civil-military relations in the United States work smoothly most of the time. Whether senior military leaders personally agree with a president’s decisions and policies or not, they normally support them, at least publicly. In exchange, civilian leaders respect the authority of military leaders within their own professional domain, particularly on things like military discipline and order.

There have been times, though, when U.S. civil-military relations have been more troubled. In some cases, senior military leaders publicly disagreed with a president's positions or policies and were fired for it. President Harry Truman’s sacking of Gen. Douglas MacArthur over U.S. strategy in the Korean War is the best-known example. The notion of principled resignations by military officials to protest the decisions or actions of a president, while rare, is even more contentious. Some experts like Richard Kohn, a historian at the University of North Carolina, believe that it is a very bad idea that would upset civil-military relations and inject military leaders into the sort of policymaking role that the Constitution never intended. ...

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