The American Military Coup of 2012

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UNITED STATES Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Dunlap wrote The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012 for the National War College in Washington. As the US military tries to find a new role after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he attacks the idea of US armed forces becoming involved in small war and policing actions at home and abroad.

He does so by writing the imaginary memoir of a military officer condemned to death for opposing a military coup in 20 years' time. His account, a copy of which has been obtained by the Independent on Sunday, explains why many US soldiers are wary of involvement in Bosnia or other missions different from the all-out war with the Soviet Union for which they were trained.

After writing the paper, Col Dunlap was transferred to Kenya where he was put in charge of logistics for US operations in Somalia. The transfer was all the more ironic because of his eloquence in denouncing US military involvement in such places as Somalia or Bosnia. His fear is that, if the US armed forces were to become enmeshed in such actions, they would be less capable of waging all-out war.

The debate over the US military's future role has intensified since the election of Bill Clinton as president. George Bush had promised to reduce the size of the armed forces, but the cuts he introduced were limited. Mr Clinton's cuts are more substantial. His relations with the Pentagon were always going to be edgy, but within days of entering the White House, they were poisoned further by his commitment to allow gays to serve in the military.

In the debate over the Pentagon budget, part of the military establishment thinks the best way to preserve its position is to find new roles. Sam Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and an opponent of deep defence cuts, says: 'There will be much greater opportunity than in the past to use military assets and training to assist civilian efforts in critical domestic areas.' He proposes that soldiers train inner- city youths, build public housing and offer free medical care.

The armed forces have already been deployed in the war against drugs. In 1981, Congress passed the Military Co-operation With Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act. The air force managed to spend dollars 500m trying to seal the Mexican border against light planes, but failed to intercept a single aircraft.