General Erich Ludendorf
In the last years of the First World War, the German economy was collapsing. Morale among the troops was near the bottom. Opinion at home became increasingly divided. The Kaiser and his government deferred more and more to the commander at the front, General Erich Ludendorf. Ludendorf effectively ruled Germany from the front lines toward the end. After 1917, Germany became a military dictatorship in all but name. When the offensives of 1918 failed, Ludendorf ordered the Kaiser to abdicate and ordered the Social Democratic Party to form a new government and sue for peace.
Andrew Sullivan seems to feel that something similar may be happening in the USA now with too many civilian leaders on all sides eager to defer to the opinions and wishes of military brass, especially General Petraeus. The situation of the USA is not nearly as desperate as Germany's in 1918, but it is very serious. The economy is in its worst state since the 1930s. Unemployment is at around 10% and not likely to come down anytime soon. Politicians seem much more eager to exploit the fear and anger of the populace rather than do anything about their situation. The USA remains bogged down in 2 long, intractable, and controversial wars.
Could General Petraeus, or the rest of the military brass, be setting us up for some kind of military rule, either directly or from behind the scenes? Perhaps coming in as patriotic peace-makers, national saviors, should the government become paralyzed with division? Does this sound very banana republic? Stay tuned ...
What makes you believe General Petraeus is a traitor?
The German government deferred so much to Ludendorf that they effectively handed the government to him. I could see a similar scenario playing out now. I doubt Petraeus would ever ask for such power, and may not even want it. But it might get handed to him anyway.
The point Andrew Sullivan is making is that American tradition of military subordination to civilian rule may be coming undone.
There's a reason that no American President since Abraham Lincoln has ever worn a military uniform while in office. Lincoln refused to wear a uniform even on a battle field, and so did both Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower, and all the others since. All of them refused epaulets for same reason, the military is subordinate to civil authority in the United States.
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