Are there actually protocols and contingencies for the extreme hypothetical situation of if our government tries to establish a dictator? Is it decided who the military sides with? What happens if the highest ranking generals are bought off? Are those below them on the hierarchy told to defect and side with the people?
closed as off-topic by user4012, SJuan76, bytebuster, Martin Tournoij, Drunk Cynic Mar 13 '18 at 22:48
This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:
- "Questions asking for the internal motivations of people, how specific individuals would behave in hypothetical situations or predictions for future events are off-topic, because answers would be based on speculation and their correctness could not be verified with sources available to the public." – user4012, SJuan76, bytebuster
The oath that everyone who joins the US Army swears states:
I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.
If the government does something so far outside the Constitution that it can't be resolved by the usual processes (such as the other branches of government's checks and balances), the army is sworn to defend the Constitution against it. In theory, this means that they would assist the other branches in removing the people involved from power, using whatever force was necessary.
How this plays out depends on who is trying to establish a dictatorship, what resources they have, and so on.
- If the President, entirely on his own, simply refuses to step down at the end of his term, then the rest of government would just ignore them, and maybe have them forcibly evicted from the White House.
- If they sign an executive order to have every member of Congress shot, Congress would impeach them (assuming no one carried it out).
- If the President attempts a coup with the support of the army generals, it'd be the obligation of the lower officers to disobey any illegal commands and capture them.
- If Congress passes laws (not amendments) to remove the position of President and transfer power to the Speaker of the House, it would be the Army's obligation to ignore the unconstitutional law.
You get the idea - the Army swears to the Constitution and the offices it creates, rather than to the people who happen to hold those offices at any point in time.