President Elect Donald Trump has assembled a team of generals to fill key posts in his national security team. Former Army General Mike Flynn is his National Security Advisor, Marine General John Kelly has been tapped to serve as Homeland Security chief and recently retired Marine General James Mattis has been nominated as Secretary of Defense.
Top military brass have served in civilian roles, but never before have so many generals been tapped to serve at once and in top positions in the government. This is out of the ordinary precisely because the American political system has historically shunned it for reasons that my guest, Alice Hunt Friend, describes.
Alice Friend studies civil military relations–she’s currently writing her PhD thesis on the topic. She’s a former official in the Pentagon and is currently both a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Center for a New American Security.
She offers a nuanced take on the kind of challenge — or even threat — to the American democratic system that is posed when the military takes on a greater role in civilian political life. She also discusses the kinds of policy implications that result from when generals are put in charge of civilian institutions. If you have 20 minutes and want to understand the deeper political and policy implications of Trump’s military-heavy national security picks, have a listen.