Monday, February 23, 2009

WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS …

Chris Hedges, never to be missed, reports that retired Admiral Dennis Blair, the new director of national intelligence (as it were), has testified before Congress that the latest and worst threat to national security is – wait for it – Us.

This is refreshing, if not altogether candid. I suppose it would have been too much to expect that he might have named the malefactors of great wealth on Wall Street or the Identity Politics masterminds who have, in one way or another, divided up the nation’s resources and treasure as if the nation were a large stuffed bird at a free-for-all buffet.

Nor would anybody expect him to suggest that the Beltway braintrust was in any way responsible.

The threat is due to the financial crisis – the cause of which is apparently not in his department. Mistakes were made, but not by us – in the fine phrase that is the title of an acute new book by Carol Tavris and Eliot Aronson.

Rather, the Beltway braintrust – in something of a half-bright lightning bolt of insight – perceive, as through a glass darkly, that “the deepening economic crisis” might set off “a return to the ‘violent extremism’ of the 1920s and 1930s”.

Ya wouldn’t want that, would-ja? Ya wouldn’t want people actually letting ‘Washington’ know exactly how they felt; exactly what they thought of being sold down the river, or led down the river; exactly what they felt about being reduced to a herd of donkeys, providing the uncomplaining backs that would carry the lusts and ‘visions’ of greed-besotted financiers and radical revolutionary ‘advocates’. Pander to the Identities in exchange for ‘support’ (not sure about the votes) while collecting cash from corporate PACs – I wonder if that’s the party that’s over. I mean – in addition to the postwar American predominance of the world.

And the idea that you can keep your citizens in a stupefied and acquiescent state of satisfaction by giving them more credit with which to buy foreign goods, while getting rid of ‘dirty’ ‘masculine’ industrial jobs and letting other countries make the stuff (and reap the profit from the sales). An idea sold to Us with – alas – a shelf life of just about thirty years.

They’re hoping – there in the Beltway – that nobody remembers the Bonus Army, the vets of the Great War who came to Washington in ’32 looking for an early payout of the bonus promised to them for their service. Twenty thousand of them on Anacostia Flats.

‘The powers that be’ there in the sacred Beltway were apparently more fearful of the example of what ultimately happened to the Czar’s government than of the dangerous tactic of shooting down one’s own people when they come to the capital (which the Czar’s government had done in 1905). They disregarded the D.C. police chief who was sure he could disperse the vets with some reason and a modest show of military force in the background.

They sent in Douglas MacArthur with four squadrons of cavalry, four companies of infantry, a machine gun company and six tanks, which assembled – charmingly – near the White House. With Major Dwight Eisenhower as second in command, and George Patton among the officers, the force worked its way down Pennsylvania Avenue and then invaded the Flats, burning the tent encampment there and tear-gassing vets, women and children. This is what happens when a failed governing elite realizes it’s been found out.

No surprise then that there’s that new Northern Command, with troops assigned whose operational area is the country itself.

Alas, if it eventually planned to deploy the Army – all else having failed – to ‘let women feel safe and totally fulfilled’, as the flaks of the Second Wave would put it, things have changed now: the forces may well be deployed to protect the Beltway banditti and panderers when the citizenry finally put two and two together. Beltway gatherings nowadays must resemble those gaggles of animated mucus-germs in the commercials, just as they begin to realize that the super-medication is heading toward them.

But how many people will remember the Bonus Army or any of that long, sustained struggle for workers’ rights from the 1880s to the very beginning of World War Two and beyond? Is it ‘violent extremism’ to try to achieve decent wages and a chance to improve yours and your children’s chances? Perhaps ‘violent extremism’ is the Beltway version of the old Politically Correct ‘backlash’: if you don’t agree with what we’re doing then anything you say is just ‘backlash’ and sour apples.

The Beltway has been pandering to the Advocacies of the Identities and the PACs for so long that I don’t think it is prepared to actually deal with citizens, let alone The People. And like those Macbeths, I think the Beltway crowd are feeling scared because they know what they’ve done, and for how long they’ve been doing it.

At the Army War College – where theoretically they’re being paid to rethink yet again just how the US military might, perhaps, some day, again win a war – they spent a good deal of time talking about how they might have to conduct operations “inside the United States” in case of a “violent strategic dislocation” and – wait for it – “purposeful domestic resistance”. Resistance to what? An earthquake? Government help after a hurricane? Read the document (link in Hedge’s article) with a Soviet citizen’s eye.

It’s always a danger that a failed military will seek compensation for its failure by ‘conducting operations’ against civilians; We may recall that the same French Army that turned in so unhappy a performance at Sedan in 1870 proved more than equal to the task when turning its primitive machine guns on its own citizens in Paris the next year. The Seventh Cavalry, alas, considered that it had avenged the great battle where Custer’s mistakes got his command wiped out, by lining up unarmed Indians alongside trenches in 1890, using Gatling guns to mow them down so that they’d fall into the trenches, and calling it the Battle of Wounded Knee. There were Army casualties – hit by ‘friendly fire’. The fog of war, no doubt. There were no Indian families left to ‘notify’.

Perhaps, though, the Army is concerned for ‘bread riots’ – such as started the avalanche that brought down the French monarchy.

Defending “basic domestic order and human security” is a phrase far too freighted to be accepted at face value. If the government has failed hugely at all its basic tasks, then the solution – ideally – would be for the government to start succeeding at its basic tasks, and pretty damned quick. That would be true ‘leadership’ – and it would start, as all good military and political leadership must start – with the government ‘leading’ itself, mastering itself so as to competently discharge its basic responsibilities, the ones that it was hired for under the Constitution.

It would be easier, of course, to simply protect itself against its own people by assaulting them.
But the world has been down that dark path so many times before. Cheney’s walk on ‘the dark side’ may turn out to be a march. Against Us.

That is the fierce urgency of now. We need to help this debased Beltway do the job We hired it for. And We do that by letting it know just what it is that We expect from them, and no less.
I think Obama is capable of moving the Augean Beltway herd in that direction, if he has the support of The People.

If We fail in this, the alternatives rapidly descend into a darkness and an abyss that the Founders knew waited just beyond the ring of the Constitution’s campfire, out there in the darkness that claimed so much hopeful light in the few millennia since humankind first began to organize itself for large benefits and common purposes.

Talk about your rendezvous with Destiny …

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