Could the U.S. see a Military Coup?

Are the nation’s fiscal, economic, military, political and social challenges setting us up for a Military Coup? Will the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, acting through our Joint Chiefs of Staff or some other high-level corps of U.S. Military officers, and supported by a variety of angry business leaders and extreme conservatives be so resentful of any changes to our national priorities that they would encourage a complete removal of our elected civilian federal government, save the Department of Defense?

If the President and Congress decided to actually reduce or freeze Military spending over the next 4 years in real dollars, eliminate some programs to build or acquire various types of military hardware, close more domestic and foreign bases and remove troops from Europe and Asia, and veto any escalation of and start deep reductions in our military presences in Afghanistan and Iraq, will the conservatives in our Military be outraged enough to take action? This consideration might make President Obama a bit skittish about not following his generals’ current recommendations to escalate our national and NATO presence in Afghanistan. His decision on this matter and other domestic issues might be viewed as the precipitating events for actions that could significantly alter the U.S. and global history.

If a direct physical removal of civilian government by military force is not in the cards, perhaps some generals and strong military supporters could defeat President Obama and the Democrats in 2010 and 2012. This peaceful mechanism is constitutionally-protected and these political campaigns could be well-financed by the many large international arms manufacturers and other parts of President Eisenhower’s vast military-industrial complex.

There is still much popular domestic support for global military power and some think more military spending is our ticket to future economic prosperity, not domestic spending on transportation infrastructure or renewable energy technologies. Will that large minority view hold sway in the early part of the 21st Century as we see other nations build up their economies, domestic infrastructures and militaries?

During the next 4 to 12 years, the U.S. will have to make very difficult choices on how to succeed as a nation in a very competitive global economy. These decisions will occur while we are still in severe domestic economic distress and our public finances in deep disarray.

Eventually we will have to tackle our massive federal budget deficits (and state budget messes) by raising taxes, cutting programs, or both. What programs can we live without and by cutting them will we bring our financial house in order? How much of a global military, economic and political empire can the U.S. afford in the 21st Century? Will global climate changes that we fail to address become the future causes of military conflicts around the world over water, food, energy sources and natural resources?

Why do pundits in Washington DC argue for expanding our Military operations in Afghanistan with borrowed money but we cannot borrow funds to expand our domestic healthcare programs or infrastructure projects? Should not all government programs be revenue neutral or paid by new taxes? Shall we soon face the difficult choice of throwing granny under the tank?

We have already wasted billions of borrowed dollars on propping up our financial and banking sectors, who are mere unrepentant and greedy oligarchs feeding off the public’s dwindling assets. If they get in financial trouble again within a few years because they take even greater risks thinking there is an endless supply of bailout funds, will we further impoverish our nation and our children by transferring more national wealth up the economic ladder?

How long can we continue to be a viable global economic power if we must accept permanent unemployment for 10% of our working-age citizens, and under-employment (part-time temporary work) for an additional 10% of our workforce? Will not additional bank bailouts and foreign military operations be looked upon as even more unnecessary national spending if we are mired in a protracted recession or job-less meager recovery? How long can we continue to outsource our economy to our global competitors?

Would the U.S. electorate even care if we dispensed with our constitution republic in favor of a dictatorship chosen only by our military with the advice and consent of our wealthiest citizens and corporations? Over 35% of Americans continuously think that voting is a complete waste of time and that percentage goes up on off-year elections. About 20% of the extreme right of the electorate thinks that the current leaders in Washington are moving us towards some sort of political and economic nightmare that must be stopped by any means possible.

Wouldn’t having a dictatorship run the U.S. eliminate any responsibilities we might have as citizens to making personal and collective efforts to improve our country and world? Just as long as we have 24/7 Media diversions and new electronic gadgets to amuse ourselves endlessly, why do we need to waste time, energy and brain power getting involved in public life when the lives of our shallow celebrities and our narcissistic selves are so much more interesting?

As long as most of the U.S. educational systems and the personal intellectual development of most people in the U.S. are steadily degenerating vis-à-vis the rest of the world, would it not be better if we take seats in the far rear of the theatre as permanent members of the global audience to a vast human spectacle that requires less and less of our collective attention or active participation? Can anyone come up with some convincing arguments why the U.S. is not moving inexorably towards complete systemic collapse within the next decade?

These have been a few frightening thoughts as we move towards Halloween 2009, as submitted by Marc Pascal in Phoenix, AZ, who always enjoyed the campy horror movie spoofs of Vincent Price.

Author: MARC PASCAL

Marc Pascal is an private enterprise counselor and independent arbitrator and mediator in Phoenix, AZ.

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20 Comments

  1. I have had the same thoughts. People do not believe it possible until it has already happened.

  2. Well..lol…it's not like the forefathers didn't plan ahead.

    The citizens have a right to bear arms. Just about everyone I know has a gun, plenty of ammo and knows how to use them and they don't all answer to Dick Cheney's crew [the people you were alluding to that might instigate one on a more large scale than they already have been].

    So, you know…do the math. Tens of millions Vs a bunch of grunts who may or may not decide mutiny against their sworn duty to the US Constitution is a good idea…

  3. If the great USA, a country built on principles, vision, hard work, and courage ever succumbs to Marc's Halloween scenario it will be as much the fault of an increasingly stupid (including moral stupidity) citizenry as the power mongers themselves. The fact that a good deal of the electorate can be conned into believing that sacrificing millions of lives in phony wars is somehow more acceptable than paying higher taxes is just one example (among many). It would be nice if this was only a Halloween scenario, but the tentacles of power in the military industrial complex are all too real. As has been noted, Eisenhower warned the country about this several decades ago.

  4. The citizens have a right to bear arms. Just about everyone I know has a gun, plenty of ammo and knows how to use them

    Assuming that you get all those people to shoot in the right direction (Good Luck), you have no idea the shit Uncle Sam can throw at you and will throw at you…

    The problem isn't guns, it's solidarity…

  5. Ha! “Uncle Sam” …Don't you mean “Uncle Cheney?”

    If Uncle Cheney wants to attack US citizens do you think he'll be sitting in his bomb shelter doing it by himself? He'll need support. Indeed, solidarity is the problem. More to the point, morality and personal introspection is the problem. Aiming artillery at US citizens is the same thing as aiming it at himself. The cushy lifestyle his rich backers are used to will be uprooted in a nanosecond. You know the Talking Heads' song about Life During War Time right?

    “..This ain't no party, this ain't no disco
    this ain't no fooling around
    This ain't no mudd club, or C. B. G. B.
    I ain't got time for that now

    Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
    Heard about Pittsburgh, PA?
    You oughta know not to stand by the window
    somebody might see you up there
    I got some groceries, some peanut butter
    to last a couple of days
    But I ain't got no speakers
    ain't got no headphones
    ain't got no records to play”
    *********
    When the grunts who make their goodies decide they won't anymore, or can't anymore, then Cheneyco will have to get by on “some groceries, some peanut butter to last a couple of days”.

    It won't be no party, won't be no disco, won't be no foolin' around..

  6. Where as I do agree that many extremists love this fantasy I still believe that this would be the worst miscalculation for them and their entire families plus the global economy possibly ever made. Those that grabbed guns and hit the streets would not only be on the left but on the right and a large swath of the middle plus a surprising contingent of those that thought that “voting doesn't matter” since many of these people are angry that the very forces that would back a coup are largely the ones that already run our government. Unlike Prescott Bush's failed coup that he walked away from and then installed his hand chosen successor, Nixon, to eventually win the presidency and then his son and his grand son and of course now they are talking about a second grand son this would end in death. If this were to happen my guess is it would go all French revolution much earlier than they suspect and they and most likely their entire families would be stamped out along with their fortunes unless they fled the country. If that sounds extreme look at the history of coups and then ponder why it has not happened here and you will quickly realize this is a huge paranoid country that is well armed and pissed. Think about how hard it is to stamp out popular insurgencies in countries where they are importing and buying weapons and then think about a nation that already has those weapons. A coup in my mind short of a political one ends in one of two ways, the coup plotters and their friends and families in mass graves with little else changed or a national neighbor to neighbor blood bath that would balkanize this country for hundreds of years if not permanently which would leave them with less power than they have now. Seeing as how we cant deal with popular insurgencies in the middle east or south east asia I suspect we would have even less luck in our own nation when we speak the same language and know where those peoples families live and they are within reach.

  7. Not worried about a future military coup, worried about the federal government coup that has already occurred supplanting the States.

  8. ANY nation is capable of seeing a military coup. The United States is not exempted.

    That is one of the reasons we maintain the separation of military branches. They have separate power structures and are difficult to coordinate. That's a good thing. The Army could not take down the government with the Marine Corps standing in its way. The only way anyone, be it Obama or Cheney (for you Silhouette), could take us into a coup is to totally control all branches with no resistance from the power structure. It just cannot happen until it does. I'm not sweatin' it yet.

  9. The other problem is if it was attempted with Obama in power it would fracture the military along racial lines which would likely neuter any plans in the larger US considering the Obama backers would look like a rainbow and the coup plotters would largely or exclusively be white. For the paranoid among us if our presidents are chosen to keep down dissent of the people they chose with incredible wisdom because any coup attempt would be seen as racial or to have a racial element which means that DC would be a scary place to be for anyone in on the coup, Obama is very popular there. You would also want to avoid most major cities and everywhere but the south for the most part since he remains pretty popular in all regions but there where the polls are turned upside down.

  10. So if the military had a coup, whats the best defense?

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    I take it any progressives out their who fear a coup support the Second Amendment?

  11. “As long as most of the U.S. educational systems and the personal intellectual development of most people in the U.S. are steadily degenerating vis-à-vis the rest of the world, would it not be better if we take seats in the far rear of the theatre as permanent members of the global audience to a vast human spectacle that requires less and less of our collective attention or active participation?”

    Decadence and its exploitation, if not further fueling –

    “Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect”: Done, as of the 1930s, by the Democrats.

    “Bread and circuses”: Done already in Roman days, and the bread part already has been done by the Democrats (as of the 1960s, in earnest). Media (when not among the Dem participants) has provided the circuses in the past decades, as well.

    Just wait until the music stops, or can't continue, in about the next 10-20+ years, as financial problems related to entitlement programs grow and can't be ignored (they are unsustainable) and the still-largely unfunded liabilities of governments materialize.

    None of that foretells a military coup to try to arrest or brake this process and the related problems — the most authoritarian experiences we have had already are already cause enough for concern, and the cause of many of our problems (fruition of decades of such practices). It's nowhere bad enough to make anyone worry about a coup right now. Nor, later. (Default on federal debt, maybe, along with monetizing much of it and witnessing substantial inflations for other, “bread and circuses,” reasons as well, though.) The real issue here always has been and remains, the problems that lead to speculation about the consequences.

  12. Well, I'm a “progressive” who supports the 2nd. Grew up with guns, own guns, hunt, etc. That said, we need to be realistic when talking about any sort of military coup in the US of A. As Don Q mentioned already, the problem isn't guns, it's solidarity. The other problems would be organization, discipline, communication, etc. The only rational defense against a military coup is to not let it happen in the first place. Informed voting and holding reps and senators accountable for their votes would be a good start. That sentence starts with the word “informed”… btw.

  13. The only anti gun types I know are main stream Dems not progressives.

  14. We are more likely to see attempts at seccession by a few states than a takeover of the federal government by military coup.

  15. Will the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, acting through our Joint Chiefs of Staff or some other high-level corps of U.S. Military officers, and supported by a variety of angry business leaders and extreme conservatives be so resentful of any changes to our national priorities that they would encourage a complete removal of our elected civilian federal government, save the Department of Defense?

    That's a nice fantasy for a spy novel but is patently absurd in 2009. There may come a point when such a thing is possible, but it is at least a generation away.

  16. “the federal government coup that has already occurred supplanting the States”

    The de facto unitary state (nation) supplanting the federal republic is decades old.

    There's no true legal, or moral or logical, underpinning of it. (There is plenty of blabbering and much that is disguised or dishonestly packaged at such underpinning, i.e., rationalization of it and approval-seeking of it, but that's not the same!) What underpins it is not only mere acquiescence but widespread public acceptance and (often whole-hearted) approval of it and a desire for more.

    “We are more likely to see attempts at seccession by a few states than a takeover of the federal government by military coup.”

    It could happen, but it wouldn't be easy. (Just look at the case with many “soveregntists,” i.e., who are largely less-than-fully-up-front separatists, in Quebec — avoiding the subsequent problems of secession by substituting other concepts, with ironical retention of many former-nation features such as currency and even Canadian citizenship!) Existing state (territorial) divisions would not be intact; partition would always be a consideration, and there is the question these days (especially with the Obama-term fiscal nightmare) the question of federal debt (and unfunded future federal liabilities) and how this would be divided. That's assuming the states would be able to leave peacefully at all, which is far from given.

    That's aside from the dispassionate (and untainted by lefty politics) view of secession is, if it makes sense or not, which is the real-world, practical test of viability. Would a state that seceded survive and thrive on its own? (This implies what might happen is a bloc of states such as the Southeast might secede rather than one state by itself to form a new nation.)

    The trend toward centrality of authority in Washington and continued replacement of federalism with our own kind of nationalism is unabated, and this confounds even what should reasonably happen in some states that are already or will become larger in population and economy in the Sun Belt-dominated future, especially California, Texas, and Florida. While it's perfectly understandable, and in fact is what amounts to long-overdue resolution of wrongful trend-setting in the other direction, devolution of authority now held by Washington especially to the larger states, in special cases, creating a number of exceptions to uniformity, is perfectly sensible as an alternative to secession. That is, California first and foremost but possibly other states later who are truly larger and more self-sufficient and competent alone, at least in theory (Florida would probably come next to California, followed by Texas, though many in Texas would argue the opposite), could and probably should have large measures of autonomy and policy decision-making carried out by and within such a state or states than by Washington. (It is deliberately anti-constitutional in fact to conceive of so much of what would be done in this way, to say the state(s) involved “should be allowed to do” X or Y, when they should correctly be seen as possessing these powers already, which have been arrogated by Washington, but such is our inverted situation of the past several decades.) California could obviously be seen as setting its own policy; certainly any state like that, which could be viewed seriously as having some right to substantial kinds of authority because it would pass the real-world test of viability if it were to secede. (I recall one work on the relation of California and the rest of the nation with a future-autonomy scenario that would include possible veto power over federal legislation within the state.)

  17. “a takeover of the federal government by military coup”

    They've had plenty of experience already with bureaucracy; why takeover much, much more, plus inherit a host of present and future problems?

  18. “my guess is it would go all French revolution much earlier than they suspect and they and most likely their entire families would be stamped out along with their fortunes unless they fled the country.”~Magicalskyfather
    **********

    Bingo. The only people who would mentally [and otherwise] crumble under “got some groceries, some peanut butter, to last a couple of days” would be the rich. Bringing a war against the poor would be…like turning the gun on themselves. It would be the dragon eating the very very last little bit of its tail.

  19. The only anti gun types I know are main stream Dems not progressives.

    The only ones I know are the progressives.

    But main stream where I live may be quite different from main stream where you live.

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