The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 (” If we’re ever going to get our freedom back, we’ve got to……..”)
CHARLES J. DUNLAP, JR.
In 1992, General Colin Powell, chairman of the joint chiefs, awarded the prize for his strategy essay competition at the National Defense Universityto Lieutenant Colonel Charles Dunlap for The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012. His cautionary tale imagined an incapable civilian government creating a vacuum that drew a competent military into a coup
disastrous for democracy. The military, of course, is bound to uphold the constitution. But Dunlap wrote: “The catastrophe that occurred on our watch took place because we failed to speak out against policies we knew were wrong. It’s too late for me to do any more. But it’s not for you.”
From Parameters, Winter 1992-93, pp. 2-20.
The letter that follows takes us on a darkly imagined excursion into the future. A military coup has taken place in the United States–the year is 2012–and General Thomas E. T. Brutus, Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Armed Forces of the United States, now occupies the White Houseas permanent Military Plenipotentiary. His position has been ratified by a national referendum, though scattered disorders still prevail and arrests for acts of sedition are underway. A senior retired officer of the Unified Armed Forces, known here simply as Prisoner 222305759, is one of those arrested, having been convicted by court-martial for opposing the coup. Prior to his execution, he is able to smuggle out of prison a letter to an old War College classmate discussing the “Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” In it, he argues that the coup was the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992.
These trends were the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses, the monolithic unification of the armed forces, and the insularity of the military community. His letter survives and is here presented verbatim.
It goes without saying (I hope) that the coup scenario above is purely a literary device intended to dramatize my concern over certain contemporary developments affecting the armed forces, and is emphatically not a prediction. — The Author
Dear Old Friend,
It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since we graduated from the War College! Remember the great discussions, the trips, the parties, the people? Those were the days!!! I’m not having quite as much fun anymore. You’ve heard about the Sedition Trials? Yeah, I was one of those arrested – convicted of “disloyal statements,” and “using contemptuous language towards officials.” Disloyal? No. Contemptuous? You bet! With General Brutus in charge it’s not hard to be contemptuous.
I’ve got to hand it to Brutus, he’s ingenious. After the President died he somehow “persuaded” the Vice President not to take the oath of office. Did we then have a President or not? A real “Constitutional Conundrum” the papers called it.1 Brutus created just enough ambiguity to convince everyone that as the senior military officer, he could– and should–declare himself Commander-in-Chief of the Unified Armed Forces. Remember what he said? “Had to fill the power vacuum.” And Brutus showed he really knew how to use power: he declared martial law, “postponed” the elections, got the Vice President to “retire,” and even moved into the White House! “More efficient to work from there,” he said. Remember that?
When Congress convened that last time and managed to pass the Referendum Act, I really got my hopes up. But when the Referendum approved Brutus’s takeover, I knew we were in serious trouble. I caused a ruckus, you know, trying to organize a protest. Then the Security Forces picked me up. My quickie “trial” was a joke. The sentence? Well, let’s just say you won’t have to save any beer for me at next year’s reunion. Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing you again, I thought I’d write everything down and try to get it to you.
I am calling my paper the “Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” I think it’s important to get the truth recorded before they rewrite history. If we’re ever going to get our freedom back, we’ve got to…..
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