Sean - I have an old school chum from my youth who grew up to become an Air Force General (Ret). My question to him is the some I raise with you. Would active US military obey what they might deem unconstitutional and likely dictatorial Executive Orders or would they stand down and refuse?
Thanks - A.
Hey Buddy -
Regarding your question - it is one I have struggled with - I will answer with an anecdote;
I came back to the United States in September of 1992. The Rodney King riots had taken place about six months earlier; over in Okinawa we were VERY aware of how the Korean residents of Los Angeles had been targeted by the black mobs, and how they chose to defend their businesses and themselves with rifles and shotguns against raging mobs. I remember having lunch with a respected member of the SF Okinawa "mafia" - we had just concluded a (LEGAL) arms deal in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant and burritos y cerveza were the logical next step. I remember sitting across from J.D. and saying, "What the hell HAPPENED to this place?" meaning of course the USA. He replied, "You see it too?"
Around the same time there was a lot of desparate talk of revolution & civil strife - Clinton had just been elected and HillaryCare and the assault rifle ban were on the table. I had to get my head straight about what I would ever say if armed interlopers came to my house and put me to the question, "Are you with us or against us?"
Of course, such a scenario never emerged - and the lesson is it will never emerge until people's families and livelihoods are directly threatened.
In the years following I moved up throught the military infrastructure and saw for myself the mindset of the colonels and generals who put into operation our national security policies. These men are thoroughly schooled in the Constitution - they are for the most part Conservatives but that does not matter - they are not radicals, they are not extremists, they are not revolutionaries. The US military prides itself on not being a banana republic operation. The men who own and operate the US military are not stupid and they are not lawyers, either. Any policy or guidance that comes down the pike regarding turning muzzles on civilians is going to be looked at long and hard with a jaundiced eye. Kent State was an anomaly not a pattern.
May 4th, 1970; a student protest at Kent State University against the Vietnam war. The Ohio National Guard were called in to control the protesters. At about 12:24 pm, Sgt. Myron Pryor began firing his pistol at the students. The other troops began firing their riffles. It is estimated that the shooting lasted about 13 seconds and that 67 rounds were fired. Four students were killed; ten others were wounded.
We have a system of checks and balances - one of the themes I was reminded of from day one in the Army is that the civilians are in charge. It was pointed out that the commanding officer could not tell us how to vote, what movies to watch, what newspapers to read - nothing. Bill of Rights protections were in full force, and we could not move amongst the civilian population and display our weapons. What it would take would be a total breakdown of the system of law, such as we saw in New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina.
Say what you want - that place had a total breakdown and there were looters - in this kind of circumstance you WANT the National Guard to show up with rifles. Yes it gets ugly right after that - for a historic reference look up what is referred to in the history books as RECONSTRUCTION.
Answer your question?