Military Dilemmas With Undemocratic Leaders

A week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the joint chiefs of staff issued a memorandum to the joint force condemning the assault on Congress and the constitutional process. They re-affirmed Joe Biden’s electoral victory and re-iterated their commitment to protecting and defending the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This re-iteration came on the heels of another. In the summer of 2020, senior military leaders in the United States were alarmed at the Trump administration’s use of military force to deter civilian protestors gathering in American cities to voice their discontent about racial discrimination and police brutality towards minority communities. Retired officers and seniors in the Defense Department warned against the politicization of the military and cautioned civilian leaders against using the military to achieve partisan goals. The Concerned Members of the Gray Line — a coalition of over 1,000 West Point alumni from six decades of graduating classes who had collectively served across ten presidential administrations — wrote a letter to West Point’s class of 2020 cautioning the graduates that while “the principle of civilian control is central to the military profession … it does not imply blind obedience.”


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