Is the U.S. Entering Martial Law?

When London School of Economics Professor Dr Brian Klaas made this statement on 9th November 2016, he echoed the anxieties of much of the international community Republican candidate Trump had just been elected the 45th President of the United States, and the world was in shock

The billionaire’s divisive campaign led many to wonder whether President Obama would impose martial law to stop Trump assuming office Others suggest Trump’s hardline policies indicate his intentions to establish a military dictatorship after his inauguration in January 2017 Martial law is a form of emergency rule that exists when the highest ranking military officer is appointed head of state, and other arms of government are disbanded The judiciary, executive and legislative become defunct Power becomes concentrated in the hands of a single individual ruler, their cronies and the military

It is the legal condition for any military dictatorship In early 2016 Obama said that Trump was “unfit to serve as President” and lacked the “judgement, the temperament, the understanding to occupy the most powerful position in the world” Journalists from the anti-establishment website Zero Hedge, believe these statements reveal Obama’s true intentions Namely, that he would never leave America in Trump’s hands because it would simply be too dangerous In this case, they argue Obama has no choice but to impose martial law as a matter of national security

Indeed, many also interpret Obama’s enthusiastic use of executive orders as a sign that he is intending to seize control Executive orders are issued by the President and have the full force of law, but without approval from Congress Obama has so far issued 256, compared to George W Bush’s 291 and Bill Clinton’s 634, each over two terms Even more disturbingly, some commentators like Alex Jones believe that a 2015 top-secret military exercise known as “Jade Helm 15” was a rehearsal for life under martial law

Conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson has long argued that the exercise was a dangerous “secret plot” to confiscate firearms, control the population and bring in martial law But of course, Obama is not the only person with the power to do this In the weeks before the election Brian Schwartz, Trump’s former biographer, said in an interview with the New Yorker, “I think before very long, it’s quite possible that he would find a way to declare martial law” He pointed out that much of Trump’s support base comes from a far-right bloc in the military, the police and the border guards He went on to say, “He controls the levers of power

Just look at any country that has been taken over by the military He’d say there is a threat to the republic and the military needs to crack down, and he would start with curfews, and the stop and frisk of anyone who is not white, male and rich” Schwartz spent almost a year at Trump’s side as research for his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal”

Given that he has spent so much time with the President-elect, he may be one of the few outside Trump’s inner circle with a studied understanding of his pathology Martial law is almost exclusively imposed in response to a crisis that threatens the sovereignty, existence or ideological foundations of the country in question Whilst many have seen Trump’s ascendancy as such a coup, he won the presidency through the democratic process; winning a predicted 290 electoral college votes to Hillary Clinton’s 228 Therefore, while Obama might disagree with Trump’s views, he has a democratic mandate to govern This means the grounds to establish an emergency military government are extremely tenuous

Moreover, the first meeting between Trump and Obama appeared to go well, arguably putting the anxieties that existed before the election to rest Obama described their conversation as “excellent”, before stating in front of the press, “I want to emphasise to you, Mr President-elect, that we are now going to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed, then the country succeeds” Given these words come directly from Obama, it is probably the most reliable indication of his intentions that we have Importantly, there is nothing in his previous Executive Orders to suggest he will also order a military crackdown The same is true of Trump’s dictatorial ambitions

Brian Schwartz’s Trump biography was written almost three decades ago So much has changed in that time – including Trump’s own political party affiliation – that his opinion is now outdated Alleged “proof” of imminent martial law does not come from either Obama or Trump, nor does it come from their teams Certainly, what evidence does show, is that Trump’s victory has deepened American political instability, and bodes for an uncertain future Therefore, while we may not be on the brink of an American military dictatorship, we can expect there to be unpredictable times ahead

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