Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson was the former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell. He's now an adjunct Professor of Government at the College of William and Mary. From an interview with Rob Kall:
Rob Kall: Now, as being engaged as you were in the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Colin Powell directed it and you were his assistant, do the Joint Chiefs of Staff have a control over the military? Does anybody?
Lawrence Wilkerson: That's an excellent question. I think the safest ingredient in our Republic with regard to the civil - military relationship, is the Officer Corps of the military. There are some exceptions to what I'm going to say, but by and large those exceptions prove the rule.
And what I'm going to say, is that the Officer Corps of the United States Military understands the Constitution. They understand their oath to the Constitution. The Constitution is not the President, or their oath is not to the President, not to the Commander in Chief. Their oath is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I think that Officer Corps would shudder at the kind of thing that we might be thinking about.
... But the insidious increase in power, and the influence over foreign policy that the military has, is very dangerous. And maybe in the long run it's even more dangerous than a coup. Because what happens is, the power shifts gradually, and gradually, and incrementally, over to the war making side , to where you wake up one morning and all you're doing is making war.
And you have so many people , from Lockheed Martin to the Congress of the United States , to the Armed Forces, to you name it, who are making so much money off that war making , that you can't stop it. That's not a coup, but it is something worse in my view. It is ultimately the destruction of our Republic.
It's worse because you don't have, like Pakistan had, for example, an interim period where President Musharraf, goes from being a General to being President, and to a certain degree stabilizes the country and turns it back over to civilian control . You don't have a seizure of power by the military. What you have , as George Marshall said to Harry Truman, when he signed the 1947 National Security Agreement Act. George Marshall said "Mr President, I fear we have militarized the decision making process."
George Marshall was right. We have militarized the decision making process. And we're seeing those animals that were created thereby " creep home to the barn ' even as I speak.
Our foreign policy, our security policy, is increasingly dominated by the military instrument. If every problem in the world is a nail and you have a hammer in the Pentagon, guess which one you're going to use in terms of tools. You're going to use the Pentagon. That's how we perceive the world now, is nails, and the Pentagon is the hammer. That's what I mean by an insidious takeover of power that is not even recognized the way a coup would be, the way Musharraf took over in Islamabad. No, this is something that just happens, and it directs American policy towards war, in an increased and ever dangerous manner and we wind up one day with no money left, no economy, and the only thing we're good at (and that's going away fast, because you need money in an economy to support a military) is the military.