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IMAGE: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow, Russia, December 31, 2016. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

President Trump and former Defense Secretary James Mattis

Under ordinary circumstances, open dissent from high-ranking military officials against the actions of civilian political leaders would signal a danger familiar to other countries. Such rumblings from military circles often indicate that constitutional freedoms are in jeopardy and that martial law, or even a coup d'etat, may be on the horizon.

In these extraordinary circumstances, however, all expectations are reversed — and the usual order of things is turned upside down.

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