This is not unprecedented in American history, and other presidents have found their own ways to deal with military officers [and those who egg them on] who see themselves as the white knight on horseback ready to save the republic from the dangers of democracy.
Perhaps the most elegant response ever penned to such a potential situation was writer by President Abraham Lincoln to Major General "Fighting Joe" Hooker on January 26, 1863:
GENERAL: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which of course I like. I also believe that you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indispensable, quality. You are ambitious, which, within reason, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside’s command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the government needed a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain success can be dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit you have aimed to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but, with energy and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories.
Contrary to what John Perry may think--
Anyone who imagines that those thoughts are not weighing heavily on the intellect and conscience of America’s military leadership is lost in a fool’s fog.
--America's military leadership has a strong and proud tradition of subordination to civil authority. Men as diverse in outlooks and background [but holding in common the power and prestige from which to be tempted to that dictatorship] have included George Washington, George McClellan, Ulysses Grant, Smedley Butler, and Douglas MacArthur successfully met the challenge to place their own ambition behind their love of the American republic.
Any reader of this blog will know that I do not subscribe to much of the hero worship or positive spin for Admiral Mullen, General Petraeus, General Odierno, or General McChrystal. No matter. They are American officers who have sworn an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. Make no mistake: These men and those men and women who serve with an under them will stand by that oath. If one of them were to receive orders he could not, within his conscience, carry out, then he would resign.
While among hundreds of thousands of people in the military I am statistically positive the individual exception could be found, here is the reality:
The American military will not support, condone, nor participate in a coup against the legal government of the United States of America.
What is most disturbing to me today is the reaction I have not seen to Mr. Perry's lunacy.
I have read dozens of condemnations of his--I will be blunt--chickenshit call for a military coup, and dozens more posts and stories using his idiocy as a talking point in current political battles.
What I have not read are dozens of stories explaining something that is as certain as the law of gravity:
The United States military does not act against the government of the United States.
Note: I will now be besieged with either (a) idiots who think the American Civil War contradicts this statement [it doesn't; with a single exception all Southerners in the US Army who joined the Confederacy resigned their commissions and gave up their citizenship prior to joining the Confederate Army]; or (b) idiots who want to cite vaguely referenced internet black helicopter stories about coups and potential coups, and the ever-present danger of military fascism, or whatever. So be it. You simply do not know what you are talking about.
Note 2: John Perry's words are seditious; they may be idiotic and politically dangerous, but they are covered by the First Amendment--the same amendment that gives me the right to say that anyone who implies that a military coup is either justifiable or positive is an ignorant asshole.