The incoming Trump administration is placing unprecedented political power in the U.S. state in the hands of military generals. The U.S. constitution enacted in 1789 – the basic law of the country – was in important respects intended to ensure civilian oversight and control of the U.S. military. It provides that only the civilian law-making congress can declare war, and that the President – a civilian- is the top commander of all military forces.
In recent years these precepts have been seriously undermined as one president after another has dispatched military forces to participate in armed conflicts or to create them without declaring war. But this trend has greatly accelerated with Trumps selection of a large number of former Generals for positions at the heights of the U.S. state.
He has, for example, selected the man known as ‘General “Mad Dog” Mattis (his actual nickname) for secretary of defense, the ministerial position which supervises the military, a post traditionally occupied by a civilian for oversight of the military. Mattis is known for his fanatic hatred of the Iranian government and played a key role in the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and in a particularly bloody assault on a city which cost many civilian lives. He once said that he found it “fun” to shoot people.
Under U.S. law a recently-retired military figure like Mattis is barred from civilian positions with oversight powers via the military. Trumps team is evidently so eager to have him in control of the military that they will need a special act of the US. Congress to allow him to serve as Secretary of Defense.
In the U.S. the Secretary of State is in charge of U.S. foreign affairs, including relations with China and Russia. Here too generals are being considered for the position, including generals who are on record as advocating a far more militaristic stance towards Russia and/or China. …