The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, is apologizing for the role he played in President Trump’s photo-op in Washington, D.C.. Dressed in battle fatigues, Milley accompanied Trump to the event in which National Guard troops attacked peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets in order to clear the way for Trump to conduct his photo-op.
Trump and the Pentagon had ordered 5,000 National Guard troops to Washington to deal with the protests against police brutality. One National Guard commander referred to the situation as “the Alamo,” implying that the White House was under siege by people who were set on conquering the federal government and massacring the occupants of the White House. Trump and the Pentagon even ordered the 82nd Airborne Division to Washington to prepare for they believed might be the start of a fateful battle for our nation’s capital. At some point during the “crisis,” Trump was even whisked down to to the basement of the White House in order to keep him safe.
Clearly concerned today with the optics of the Pentagon’s role in all this, Milley is now publicly lamenting the fact that he accompanied Trump on his photo shoot while dressed in battle fatigues. In a video address to the National Defense University, Milley stated, “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”
At this point, it behooves us to review the thesis set forth by Michael J. Glennon in his book National Security and Double Government.
Take a glance at Glennon’s Wikipedia page. He is professor of international law at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He previously served as counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Glennon’s thesis is an ominous one, one that many Americans would rather not think about. He holds that the real power of the federal government lies not with the president, Congress, or the Supreme Court, as every American schoolchild is taught. Instead, as Glennon carefully explains and analyzes, the real power lies with the national-security establishment, specifically the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA, which is the entity that Glennon holds is actually in charge of running the federal government.
If such is the case, then why would Milley, as the top official in the military, be apologizing for his role in recent events in Washington?
Glennon provides the answer. He says that ever since the U.S. government was converted to a national-security state after World War II, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA have not been concerned with whether people know that they are running the federal government. What matters to them is that they wield the power, not they receive the publicity and accolades that come with power. Thus, the national-security establishment has always been willing to let the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government continue maintaining their veneer of power, knowing that it’s the national-security state that is actually wielding the power.
Thus, if Glennon is right, then Milley is simply playing his part in this drama by publicly apologizing for and regretting the role of the military in recent events. Knowing that people’s eyebrows have been raised over the military’s participation in the protests, Milley knows that his job is to quiet concerns and make Americans believe that the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court, not the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA, are still in charge of the federal government.
Glennon’s thesis is consistent with the antipathy that our American ancestors had toward what they called “standing armies.” It is also consistent with the warning issued by President Dwight Eisenhower, who had served as commander of allied troops during World War II, which stated that the federal government’s “military-industrial complex” posed a grave threat to the liberties of the American people and to the democratic processes of the federal government. It is also consistent with the Washington Post op-ed in December 1963 by former President Harry Truman, which stated that the CIA had become an ominous force within the federal government.