Civilian control of the military has been a central tenet of democratic governance. The trenchant warning from retiring President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the dangers to democracy from a permanent “military-industrial complex” is the most memorable presidential farewell warning in our history. The civil-military gap has widened over the years, starting with the controversy over the Vietnam War in the 1970s; the Goldwater-Nichols Act in the 1980s; and the Global War on Terror in the wake of the attacks in New York City and Washington in 2001. Our bloated defense budget, which accounts for more than one trillion dollars when all departments of government are included and two-thirds of discretionary spending, contributes to the belief that only a professional military class can manage the sophisticated technology of the Pentagon.
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