In late 1973, the politically isolated president Richard Nixon reportedly asked the Joint Chiefs whether military support was available to keep him in power.
Did President Nixon contemplate using U.S. troops to carry out a countercoup?
In the January issue of Military Heritage Magazine, Blaine Taylor provides chilling details about one of President Nixon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff meetings in late 1973. During the meeting, Nixon reportedly wanted to discuss if in a crunch, “there was [military] support to keep him in power,” presumably even after an impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives and later trial by the U.S. Senate to convict him of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Almost too bizarre to believe, but as you’ll read in this month’s “Intelligence” column, President Nixon’s inquiries caused other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be seriously concerned.
“[Air Force General George] Brown’s hands were shaking,” said Former Navy Admiral James Halloway, Zumwalt’s successor. “He told us, ‘I’ve just come from the office of the Secretary of Defense. I made some notes. I want to read them to you.’
“What the Secretary wanted was an agreement from the Joint Chiefs—all of them—that nobody would take any action or execute any orders, without all of them agreeing to it. General Brown said they were afraid of some sort of coup involving the military… We almost fell off our chairs. If anyone was thinking of a coup, it was not anyone in uniform. None of us wanted to conjecture on, ‘What if we get a screwy order from the President?’ ”
This is just one of the many fascinating articles you’ll find in this month’s Military Heritage, your source for in-depth analysis on the history of armed conflict. Our January 2014 issue also includes many fully detailed features, including:
“Hannibal’s Cunning Ambush”
Carthaginian Commander Hannibal Barca hid his army in the hills along Lake Trasimene in June 217 B.C., and as Chuck Lyons reports, the Roman Empire soldiers marched unwittingly into his trap.
“’Tis To Glory We Steer”
David Norris covers British Rear Admiral Sir Edward Hawke’s bold gamble to smash a French fleet during the Seven Year’s War.
“A Deplorable Affair”
John Walker’s detailed feature covers Confederate Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s vicious attack on Fort Pillow in April 1864.
“Bloody Clash on the Lomba”
William Stroock provides his insight into the Cuito Cuanavale/Lomba River campaign in 1987-1988—the final act in a decade-long conflict between communist Angola and Apartheid South Africa.
And in addition to President Nixon’s final months in office, the departments in this issue ofMilitary Heritagealso cover the principles of Fabian strategy, famed samurai warrior Kusunoki Masashige and other topics that’ll be sure to captivate your interest.
As for President Nixon’s alleged countercoup, what do you think? Were some of the Joint Chiefs and their staff justified in their concerns? Or has the issue been over-inflated? Let us know in the comments below.