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Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires

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 Defence.

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.

The U.S. national security advisor is a position also traditionally held by a civilian, and is the top White House position co-ordinating military and foreign affairs.  Trump choice for this position is General Flynn was previously dismissed from the Pentagon as too wild in his notions even for their liking.

Other military figures appointed or under consideration for appointment to high level government offices include

*For possible Secretary of State: Retired General David Petraeus, who served as US commander in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is also a former CIA director, is a leading contender for secretary of state.

*For head of U.S. Homeland Security: Retired General John F. Kelly is being considered.

* For Director of national intelligence, coordinating all 19 parts of the gigantic U.S. intelligence system,  Admiral Michael Rogers, the current head of the National Security Agency is under consideration.

These, and other military appointees to previously civilian positions, are an outgrowth of 25 years of progressive militarization of American society and government, including 25 years of wars of aggression against countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and Libya, as well as the arming of American city police forces with military equipment such as armored personnel carriers, battlefield machine guns, and more.

Alongside these military figures, one billionaire after another is being selected for other ministerial cabinet positions, a number with connections to the odious Wall Street firms which brought the world the current economic crisis in 2008.

It is especially alarming that virtually all of the major U.S. mass media, including the New York Times and Washington Post, and leading figures in both the U.S. major political parties, have applauded the selection of Mattis, and remained mute in the face of a coming political administration of generals and billionaires.

The new presidential administration is shaping up as the complete alliance of Washington insiders, parasitic finance capital (aka Wall street, etc) and the massive military-security complex.  These ministerial level cabinet selections are a warning that far greater attacks on the social and economic rights of American workers, and greater militarism and military aggression abroad are being prepared.

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Eric Sommer is an international journalist.

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