Jump to content
The Education Forum

Coup d’etat in the United States?


Recommended Posts

Interesting article by Anwaar Hussain:

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m22564&l=i&size=1&hd=0

About the possibilities of a military coup in the United States, historian Andrew Jonas said this;

"Coup d’etat in the United States would be too fantastic to contemplate, not only because few would actually entertain the idea, but also because the bulk of the people are strongly attached to the prevailing political system and would rise in defense of a political leader even though they might not like him. The environment most hospitable to coups d’etat is one in which political apathy prevails as the dominant style."

The question to ask is whether 'political apathy’ now 'prevails as the dominant style’ in the United States of today or not?

With the unending 'war on terror’ resulting in a heavy tampering of the American Constitution by the current US Administration, and the consequent granting of virtually limitless powers to the President of United States for the duration of the unending war, a real 'Constitutional Conundrum' has been created.

Ironically, this self-granting of limitless powers in turn has now manifested itself in an inverse power vacuum being created at the decision making level that is now becoming more and more visible with each passing day. Despite the fact that American nation seems to understand more than any other nation that the armed forces exist to support and defend government, not to be the government, yet faced with an intractable national problem on the one hand, and having an efficient and capable military on the other, it is all too enticing to start viewing the military as a gainful solution or as the 'ultimate saviors’ a la certain banana republics where the military does indeed call the shots.

The seeds of the outrage are all there. The war-ravaged economy is in the dumps, American casualties in Iraq are mounting with Iraq itself now in the throes of a civil war, corruption in high places is rampant, the environment is in trouble, the delicate subject of 'immigration’ has been given a needless prod resulting in massive protests and political scandals are exploding on almost daily basis in Washington. In addition to all this, despite a national and international uproar, the current American leadership seems to be inching inexorably towards yet another war--this time with Iran.

Americans becoming frustrated with democracy and disheartened with the apparent inability of their elected government to negoatiate the nation’s confounding impasses, thus, is a natural response. Unable to effect a change themselves, they may now be looking for someone or something that could produce workable solutions. Despite its misuse by the civilian leadership, the one institution of government in which the Americans continue to retain faith is their military.

Ever since Washington’s warnings about the dangers of large military establishments in his farewell address, Americans have generally regarded their armed forces with a careful mix of awe and respect. For over two centuries that admiration was rewarded, and most Americans have come to consider the very idea of a military coup outrageous. To be sure, there always were eccentric conspiracy theorists that saw the Pentagon’s hand in the assassination of President Kennedy, President Nixon’s downfall, and similar events yet not very many Americans would think that a military coup d’etat in America of today is a tangible possibility.

That fact may be slowly, but surely, changing. According to a very recent Guardian report, for example, the US government is increasingly faced with a intensifying split between its civilian and military leadership over the war on Iraq after a fourth retired general called for the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to stand down. This latest was retired Major General Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. The other three were Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, the former director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Major General Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi troops until 2004 and retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, the former head of US Central Command.

The unparalleled ferocity of the attacks and repeated calls for serving officers to go public with their dissent was starting to cause concern among military analysts. "If this opens up so we have more and more officers speaking up and blaming Rumsfeld and blaming senior civilians, then it is possibly heading towards a fairly dangerous civilian-military crisis," opined Andrew Bacevich, a military historian at Boston University.

Richard Gabriel fittingly observed in his book 'To Serve with Honor’ that, "When one discusses dissent, loyalty, and the limits of military obligations, the central problem is that the military represents a threat to civil order not because it will usurp authority, but because it does not speak out on critical policy decisions. The soldier fails to live up to his oath to serve the country if he does not speak out when he sees his civilian or military superiors executing policies he feels to be wrong." While Gabriel was right when he described military leadership’s responsibilities vis-à-vis the civilian leadership, he may have been off the mark when he dismissed the military’s potential to threaten civil order.

Efforts to carve a role for the military in America’s civilian affairs can be traced to as far back as the Carter administration. According to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Knut Royce in a July 1983 series in the San Francisco Examiner, a presidential directive had been drafted by a few Carter administration personnel in 1979 "to allow the military to take control of the government for 90 days in the event of an emergency." A requirement on page one of the directive said, "Keeping the government functioning after a nuclear war is a secret, costly project that detractors claim jeopardizes US traditions and saves a privileged few." There was a heated debate, Royce noted, within the Carter administration as to just what constituted an "emergency."

Then again during the Iran-Contra affair it came to light that a few high officials of the US government were planning a possible military/civilian coup. Miami Herald on July 5, 1987 ran the story. The article, by Alfonzo Chardy, revealed Oliver North's involvement in plans for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to take over federal, state and local functions during an ill-defined national emergency.

With the unending 'war on terror’ continuing endlessly, the incessant chant of 'enemies all around’ and the inevitable militarization of the American society, the armed forces have now penetrated many vital aspects of American society. There now is an entire generation of young Americans who have grown up comfortable with the sight of military personnel strutting about their streets and on their campuses. Military uniforms now draw no stares. Furthermore, with the ever increasing importance attached to agencies like Homeland Security and FEMA, the military is now ideally positioned in thousands of communities to support the supposed coup.

Given these treacherous times, there are increasing indications that Americans' traditional and strong resistance to any military interference into civilian affairs may be waning. The time may not be very far when they start re-thinking the appeal and need of that resistance. Indeed, many may already be comparing the military’s principled competence with the shenanigans and uselessness of their elected officials, and finding the former more capable.

American public’s unease too is now increasing in a direct proportion to the top military brass’s voicing of its opinion. The terms 'impeachment’, 'censuring’, 'removal from power’ etc. have now become a common lexicon not just in the fringe media. Never before has the threat of disorder occasioned by an increasingly isolated Chief Executive so precipitated with each passing day. Needless to say that the inept civilian leadership, on all sides of the American political spectrum, direly necessitates a strong headship in these troubled times.

With the current US administration getting the lowest ever job approval ratings from American public; the country now suffers from a deep pessimism about politicians and government after years of false promises and outright lies. Ruling politicians and their proposals seem rotten and repetitive. With surfacing of reports of vote rigging in the last elections, the American voters now seem to have also given up hope of finding answers through the ballot. Even a cursory glance at the alternative media shows that an increasing number of Americans have come to view the chief function of their government as inventing a security threat and then turning the job over to the military. If that be the case, some may argue, why not remove the corrupt middlemen and entrust the task directly to the military.

The "environment of apathy" Janos characterized as a forerunner to a coup seems to have arrived in America.

America, ladies and gentlemen, has entered a dangerous phase.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting article by Anwaar Hussain:

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m22564&l=i&size=1&hd=0

About the possibilities of a military coup in the United States, historian Andrew Jonas said this;

"Coup d’etat in the United States would be too fantastic to contemplate, not only because few would actually entertain the idea, but also because the bulk of the people are strongly attached to the prevailing political system and would rise in defense of a political leader even though they might not like him. The environment most hospitable to coups d’etat is one in which political apathy prevails as the dominant style."

John:

With all due respect to Mr. Jonas, I would dispute his premise as it seems entirely counterintuitive to me.

We cannot know for certain what is "too fantastic to comtemplate;" only that which is too fantastic to actually undertake. I'm sure there are any number of military and intelligence personnel in the USA who have entertained the notion of taking out an obstinate Commander in Chief. But dreaming about it and doing it are two different things. What's really being said here, I think, is that Jonas himself finds it too fantastic to contemplate, and hence cannot conceive that others in positions of power don't necessarily share his view. I think his observation is naive.

For those who do "entertain the idea," key factors must include whether they have the both the ability to execute the plan, and a better than even chance of it either being undetected, or their role in it remaining hidden. As has always been the case throughout history, what must be weighed by such plotters remains the same: "Is the potential benefit worth the potential risk?"

I could be wrong in my interpretation, but Jonas seems to be saying that the "people" would rise in defense of their leader. In a case such as Hugo Chavez being held in seclusion by his own military, it was possible to do so. But when one's leader is summarily executed by hidden gunmen firing from the shadows, the coup d'etat is a fait acomplis without the deed's true architects being identified. Who fired the bullet is of secondary importance; who bought the bullet is key.

Given that it is impossible to "rise in defense" of a leader who is dead, the only real recourse left to the "people" is to "rise in defense" of the system which yielded up that leader. But if those prospective leaders who follow in that dead leader's footsteps are themselves similarly assassinated, the coup is an ongoing work in progress. When the bullet trumps the ballot, we have - as Blumenthal and Yazijian so aptly named their book - "Government By Gunplay."

If the majority of the population is apathetic, one doesn't need to engineer a coup d'etat. That's far too showy and risky. One need only find ways to influence the leadership, whether that's through the offices of a Jack Abramoff or blackmail and extortion or some other political influence.

Contrary to Jonas' assertion, it is the very popularity of a leader - and his or her ability to politically galvanize the people to move in directions deemed anathema to powerful interests - that makes the leader a threat to those interests. When lobbying, political influence and other coercise measures fail to persuade a popular leader to change his course, that is when a coup d'etat becomes a virtual necessity to those entrenched powers whose interests hang in the balance. Suddenly, the equation of benefit and risk has an additional factor added: a deadline. "How can this leader be stopped before it's too late?" It is in the interests of power to preserve itself; far easier to do that than to regain it once lost. Ask Batista, Somoza, Noriega or any other deposed despot if this is not true.

There is, today, in the US a crypto-fascist government that mouths all the right platitudes, yet fraudulently orchestrates electoral theft, consistently disregards the laws of the land, ignores the will of the people, and has demonstrated it is prepared to commit even treason in order to pursue its own interests, at the expense of the nation's interests. It can do so because the men who run this government deem themselves to be "exceptionalists." They justify their actions to themselves by claiming that these are exceptional times ["Everything changed on Nine-One-One"], that call for exceptional measures ["A global war on terror"] to be taken by exceptional men. ["The fate of our nation hangs in the balance."] Which is precisely the exemptive rationalization of those who would organize a coup d'etat. ["The fate of our nation hangs in the balance."]

There has been no more clearcut example of this in my lifetime, yet the people remain either apathetically docile or convinced they are powerless to change it. According to Jonas' calculations, this combination of factors should be the perfect petri dish for a coup d'etat, yet polite society and the chattering classes cannot even bring themselves to say the word "impeachment," let alone foment for a coup. This so-called President is historically unpopular, and pursuing policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of all others. And not a damned thing will be done about it, because the second part of that sentence outweighs the importance of the first part of that sentence.

However, if this so-called President were popular, and pursuing policies that benefit all others at the expense of the wealthy..... that's the political topography which makes a coup d'etat not just conceivable, but inevitable.

The foregoing is only my two cents worth. And worth every penny. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting article by Anwaar Hussain:

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m22564&l=i&size=1&hd=0

About the possibilities of a military coup in the United States, historian Andrew Jonas said this;

"Coup d’etat in the United States would be too fantastic to contemplate, not only because few would actually entertain the idea, but also because the bulk of the people are strongly attached to the prevailing political system and would rise in defense of a political leader even though they might not like him. The environment most hospitable to coups d’etat is one in which political apathy prevails as the dominant style."

John:

With all due respect to Mr. Jonas, I would dispute his premise as it seems entirely counterintuitive to me.

We cannot know for certain what is "too fantastic to comtemplate;" only that which is too fantastic to actually undertake. I'm sure there are any number of military and intelligence personnel in the USA who have entertained the notion of taking out an obstinate Commander in Chief. But dreaming about it and doing it are two different things. What's really being said here, I think, is that Jonas himself finds it too fantastic to contemplate, and hence cannot conceive that others in positions of power don't necessarily share his view. I think his observation is naive.

For those who do "entertain the idea," key factors must include whether they have the both the ability to execute the plan, and a better than even chance of it either being undetected, or their role in it remaining hidden. As has always been the case throughout history, what must be weighed by such plotters remains the same: "Is the potential benefit worth the potential risk?"

I could be wrong in my interpretation, but Jonas seems to be saying that the "people" would rise in defense of their leader. In a case such as Hugo Chavez being held in seclusion by his own military, it was possible to do so. But when one's leader is summarily executed by hidden gunmen firing from the shadows, the coup d'etat is a fait acomplis without the deed's true architects being identified. Who fired the bullet is of secondary importance; who bought the bullet is key.

Given that it is impossible to "rise in defense" of a leader who is dead, the only real recourse left to the "people" is to "rise in defense" of the system which yielded up that leader. But if those prospective leaders who follow in that dead leader's footsteps are themselves similarly assassinated, the coup is an ongoing work in progress. When the bullet trumps the ballot, we have - as Blumenthal and Yazijian so aptly named their book - "Government By Gunplay."

If the majority of the population is apathetic, one doesn't need to engineer a coup d'etat. That's far too showy and risky. One need only find ways to influence the leadership, whether that's through the offices of a Jack Abramoff or blackmail and extortion or some other political influence.

Contrary to Jonas' assertion, it is the very popularity of a leader - and his or her ability to politically galvanize the people to move in directions deemed anathema to powerful interests - that makes the leader a threat to those interests. When lobbying, political influence and other coercise measures fail to persuade a popular leader to change his course, that is when a coup d'etat becomes a virtual necessity to those entrenched powers whose interests hang in the balance. Suddenly, the equation of benefit and risk has an additional factor added: a deadline. "How can this leader be stopped before it's too late?" It is in the interests of power to preserve itself; far easier to do that than to regain it once lost. Ask Batista, Somoza, Noriega or any other deposed despot if this is not true.

There is, today, in the US a crypto-fascist government that mouths all the right platitudes, yet fraudulently orchestrates electoral theft, consistently disregards the laws of the land, ignores the will of the people, and has demonstrated it is prepared to commit even treason in order to pursue its own interests, at the expense of the nation's interests. It can do so because the men who run this government deem themselves to be "exceptionalists." They justify their actions to themselves by claiming that these are exceptional times ["Everything changed on Nine-One-One"], that call for exceptional measures ["A global war on terror"] to be taken by exceptional men. ["The fate of our nation hangs in the balance."] Which is precisely the exemptive rationalization of those who would organize a coup d'etat. ["The fate of our nation hangs in the balance."]

There has been no more clearcut example of this in my lifetime, yet the people remain either apathetically docile or convinced they are powerless to change it. According to Jonas' calculations, this combination of factors should be the perfect petri dish for a coup d'etat, yet polite society and the chattering classes cannot even bring themselves to say the word "impeachment," let alone foment for a coup. This so-called President is historically unpopular, and pursuing policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of all others. And not a damned thing will be done about it, because the second part of that sentence outweighs the importance of the first part of that sentence.

However, if this so-called President were popular, and pursuing policies that benefit all others at the expense of the wealthy..... that's the political topography which makes a coup d'etat not just conceivable, but inevitable.

The foregoing is only my two cents worth. And worth every penny. :-)

Your two cents are worth billions in this succinct view above.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Astute post, Robert. It's the leader who is popular, can influence the people and rejects the temptation to grant largesse to the wealthy who is most at risk. Threatening the status quo is a much bigger crime than war-mongering, lying or electoral fraud.

It should be remembered that Bush and his cohorts in Government are just shills for the impossibly greedy power elite which supports and directs them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to take so long in copying this article, but Harper Magazine's website is now defaulting to something by the name of magazine.com, and I'm no longer able to obtain a url to the articles appearing in the magazine.

What I found disconcerting about this article is the total oblivion exhibited by the members of its forum with regard to what happened in November 1963. If this is the culmination of what is to be considered as representative of the United States military's brain trust, we're all heading straight to hell in a bucket, or better yet, a military helmet.

********************************************************************************

AMERICAN COUP D'ETAT

Military thinkers discuss the unthinkable

Eternal vigilance being the price of liberty, Americans--who spent decades war-gaming a Soviet invasion and have taken more recently to daydreaming about "ticking bomb" scenarios--should cast at least an occasional thought toward the only truly existential threat that American democracy might face today. We now live in a unipolar world, after all, in which conquest of the United States by an outside power is nearly inconceivable. Even the best-equipped terrorists, for their part, could dispatch at most a city or two; and armed revolution is a futile prospect, so fearsomely is our homeland secured by police and military forces. To subdue America entirely, the only route remaining would be to seize the machinery of state itself, to steer it toward malign ends--to carry out, that is, a coup d'etat.

Given that the linchpin of any coup d'etat is the participation , or at least the support, of a nation's military officers, Harper's Magazine assembled a panel of experts to discuss the state of our military--its culture, its relationship with the wider society, and the steadfastness of its loyalty to the ideals of democracy and to the United States Constitution.

The following forum is based on a discussion that toook place in January at the Ruth's Chris Steak House in Arlington, Virginia. Bill Wasik served as moderator.

ANDREW J. BACEVICH

is a professor of international relations at Boston University and the author, most recently, of The New American Militarism. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1992.

BRIG. GEN CHARLES J. DUNLAP JR.

is a staff judge advocate at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. In 1002 he published an essay entitled "The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012." (His views here are personal and do not reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.)

RICHARD H. KOHN

is the chair of the curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and editor of the book The United States Military Under the Constitution of the United States, 1789-1989, among others.

EDWARD H. LUTTWAK

is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the author of many books, including Coup D'Etat: A Practical

Handbook.

BILL WASIK

is a senior editor of Harper's Magazine.

_______________________________________________________________________________

I.

BILL WASIK: Let us begin with the most straightforward approach. Would it be possible for a renegade group of military officers, or the officer corps as a whole, to simply plot and carry out a coup d'etat in the United States?

EDWARD LUTTWAK: If somebody asked me to plan such a coup, I wouldn't take on the assignment.

CHARLES DUNLAP: I wouldn't either. [Laughs]

LUTTWAK: I've done it for other countries. But it just wouldn't work here. You could go down the list and take over these headquarters, that headquarters, the White House, the Defense Department, the television, the radio, and so on. You could arrest all the leaders, detain or kill off their families. And you would have accomplished nothing.

ANDREW BACEVICH: That's right. What are you going to seize that, having seized it, gives you control of the country?

LUTTWAK: You would sit in the office of the Secretary of Defense, and the first place where you wouldn't be obeyed would be inside your office. If they did follow orders inside the office, then people in the rest of the Pentagon wouldn't. If they did, as well, American citizens would still not accept your legitimacy.

RICHARD KOHN: It's a problem of public opinion. All of the organs of opinion in this country would rise up with one voice: the courts, the media, business leaders, education leaders, the clergy.

LUTTWAK: You could shut down the media--

KOHN: You can't shut it down. It's too dispersed.

LUTTWAK: No, you could shut down the media, but even if you did shut down the media, you wouldn't be able to rule. Because, remember in order to actually rule, you have toi have acceptance. Think of Saddam Hussein: he was not a very, you know, popular leader, but he did have to be obeyed at the very minimum by his security forces, his Republican Guards. So there is a minimum group that one needs in order to control any country. But in this country, you could never control such a minimum group.

KOHN: I've raised this point before with military audiences: Do you really think you can control New York City without the cooperation of 40,000 New York police officers? And what about Idaho, with all those militia groups? Do you think you can control Idaho? I'm not even going to talk about Texas.

BACEVICH: And this comes back to the federal system. As Edward pointed out, even if you seized Washington, Americans are willing to acknowledge that Washington is the seat of political authority only to a limited extent. The coup plotters could sit in the Capitol, but up in Boston we're going to ask, "What's this got to do with us?"

DUNLAP: It's also impossible given the culture of the military. The notion of a cabal of U.S. military officers colluding to overthrow the government is almost unthinkable. Civilian control of the military is too deeply ingrained in the armed forces.

BACEVICH: The professional ethic within the military is firmly committed to the principle that they don't rule.

WASIK: So we can agree, then, that the blunt apporach won't work. Was there ever a time in our history when the United States was in danger of an outright military takeover?

KOHN: The closest, I would say, was a faction in the military at Newburgh, New York, in March of 1783. The army felt like it was about to be abandoned in the oncoming peace; officers were concerned about their reintegration into American society, that they wouldn't get the pay that had been promised them. They got caught up in a very complex plot, in which they were used by a faction in the Congress that was trying to change the Articles of Confederation to give the central government the power to tax. Nationalist leaders in Congress basically provoked a coup attempt and then double-crossed the officers that they induced to do it by tipping off George Washington. All this led to a famous meeting of the officers when it was proposed that they see to their own interests, and either march on the Congress or, if the war continued, retire to the West and abandon the country. Washington faced down the conspirators in an emotional moment at Newburgh on March 15, 1783.

DUNLAP: He was reading a letter from a congressman, as I recall, and then at one point he said,

"Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles. For I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country."

KOHN: And this caused a kind of emotional break at the meeting, according to the people who were there.

DUNLAP: Because they realized how much he had sacrificed. And it humiliated them.

LUTTWAK: So the point here is to make sure your army has excellent retirement benefits. This was an industrial action. It was about getting paid.

KOHN: The pay represented alot more than just the money, though. There was deep political intrigue involved, and person animosity.

LUTTWAK: In other words, the republic was in great danger in 1783. Which doesn't cause immediate alarm these days in the streets of Manhattan.

BACEVICH: But this does bring up another crucial reason there could never be a military coup in the United States: the military has learned to play politics. It doesn't need to have a coup in order to get what it wants most of the time. Especially since World War II, the services have become very skillful at exploiting the media and at manipulating the Congress--particularly on the defense budget, which is estimated now to be equal to that of the entire rest of the world combined.

DUNLAP: I agree, though I wouldn't characterize it negatively. The military works within the system to achieve its needs.

LUTTWAK: A few years back, the president of Argentina told the country's air force that its budget for the next year would be $80 million. Now, Argentina has a fairly large air force; $80 million was enough for one base, basically. But the air force had no recourse, no back channels to Congress, no talk shows to go on. That could never happen in the United States.

BACEVICH: Right. Our military doesn't need to overthrow the government, because it has learned how to play politics in order to achieve its interests.

II.

WASIK: Are there any unforeseen circumstances in which a coup might become possible in the United States?

KOHN: One could conceive of situations in which the military would be invited to exercise extraconstitutional authority. Imagine rolling biological attacks, with the need to quarantine whole cities or regions. A military takeover might arise, indeed, from a politician wanting to simply retain order in the country. It might be supported by the American people--and Congress and the courts might go along.

LUTTWAK: Such a scenario would probably play out through a multi-stage transformation. After all, take any group of nice people on a trip; if five bad things happen to them in a row, they will end up as cannibals. how may adverse events are needed before a political system, arguably the most firmly rooted constitutional system in the history of the world, becomes uprooted? How many September 11ths, on what scale? How much panic, what kind of leadership? All of us can say that it is foolish to talk of a coup in the United States, but any of us could design a scenario by which a coup becomes possible.

DUNLAP: If there were a massive attack by a nuclear weapon, or by some other weapon of mass destruction, the immediate crisis might require the use of the armed forces. But obviously there are plans for those scenarios, and if they're executed, then control would be maintained under the Constitution.

BACEVICH: But these are scenarios in which the military would be invited to overstep its role.

KOHN: Yes. I cannot conceive that in such a situation the military would aggrandize its position on its own.

WASIK: So a weapon of mass destruction might cause the military to assume greater power. What about a purely political crisis? Could the military step in if, say, the Constitution were unclear on a course of action?

DUNLAP: One interesting scenario would be a crisis between the branches of government that are expected to control the military. I.e., if the armed forces were caught between the orders of the president, the Congress, or even the courts, and there were no constitutional path to resolve the disagreement.

KOHN: Wouldn't the armed forces simply freeze? They'd be paralyzed.

LUTTWAK: It's a very interesting line of inquiry. Let's say a president, exercising his proper and legitimate presidential authority, initiates a military action. The Congress wakes up and says, "Wait a minute, this president is berserk; he's starting a war, and we're against it." But in the meantime, the military force has already been put in a very compromised situation. If things were moving very fast, the military might well take an unconstitutional action.

KOHN: Something similar actually happened during Reconstruction: there were conflicting orders from the Congress and the president.

LUTTWAK: What were the details?

KOHN: It was 1867, when Grant was the commanding general.

BACEVICH: The president, Andrew Johnson, was in favor of a rapid reconciliation and minimal political change. The Congress, under the control of radical Republicans, wanted to impose change on the South, and also thereby consolidate Republican control over the army: as far as Reconstruction was concerned, Grant and Edwin Stanton, who was secretary of war, were to take their marching orders from Congress. When Johnson fired Stanton, Grant found himself both the commanding general of the army and the acting secretary of war. But he struck an obedient, apolitical pose, and he continued to do the bidding of Congress.

LUTTWAK: What about a situation in which the military was ordered to start a war that it did not believe could be won? Imagine that President Bush orders the American armed forces to effect a landing in Fujian province and march up to Beijing. The army would say, "Of course, Mr. President, we're willing to obey orders. But we have to have a universal military conscription, we have to bring our forces up to four million and a half." And imagine that Bush refuses.

BACEVICH: The military would leak it to the Washington Post, and the war would never happen. It's the Bosnia case: when President Clinton wanter to intervene in Bosnia, General Barry McCaffrey testified to Congress and gave a wildly inflated projection of the number of occupation troops that would be required. By overstating the cost of the operation, the generals changed the political dynamic and Clinton found his hands tied, at least for a period of time.

WASIK: Let's get back, though, to the subject of the crises, whether real or contrived. It seems as though the American public wants to see the military step in during these situations. A poll taken just after Hurricane Katrina found that 69 percent of people wanted to see the military serve as the primary responder to natural disasters.

DUNLAP: People don't fully appreciate what the military is. By design it is authoritarian, socialistic, undemocratic. Those qualities help the armed forces to serve their very unique purpose in our society: namely, external defense against foreign enemies. In the military we look to destroy threats, not apprehend them for processing through a system that presumes them innocent until proven guilty. And I should add that if you do try to imprint soldiers with the restraint that a police force needs, then you disadvantage them against the ruthless adversaries that real war involves.

WASIK: Then why do so many Americans say they want to see the military get involved in law enforcement, "peacekeeping," etc.?

DUNLAP: Americans today have an incredible trust in the military. In poll after poll they have much more confidence in the armed forces than they do in other institutions. The most recent poll, just this past spring, had trust in the military at 74 percent, while Congress was at 22 percent, and the presidency was at 44 percent. In other words, the armed forces are much more trusted than the civilian institutions that are supposed to control them.

III.

BACEVICH: The question that arises is whether, in fact, we're not already experiencing what is in essence a creeping coup d'etat. But it's not people in uniform who are seizing power. It's militarized civilians, who conceive of the world as such a dangerous place that military power has to predominate, that constitutional constraints on the military need to be loosened. The ideology of national secruity has become ever more woven into our politics. It has been especially apparent since 9/11, but more broadly it's been going on since the beginning of the Cold War.

KOHN: The Constitution is being warped.

BACEVICH: Here we don't need to conjure up hypothetical scenarios of the president deploying troops, etc. We have a president who created a program thats directs the National Security Agency, which is part of the military, to engage in domestic eavesdropping.

LUTTWAK: I don't know if this would be called a coup.

KOHN: Because it's so incremental?

LUTTWAK: It's more like an erosion. The President is usurping additional powers. Although what's interesting is that the president's usurpation of this particular power was entirely unnecessary. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which approves terrorism-related requests for wiretaps, can be summoned over the telephone in a matter of minutes. In its entire history, it has said no to a request for surveillance only a handful of times, and those were cases where there was a mistake in the request. Really, even a small-town sheriff can get any interception he wants so long as after the fact he can show a judge that there was reasonable cause.

BACEVICH: Bush's move was unnecessary if the object of the exercise was to engage in surveillance. It was very useful indeed if the object is to expand executive power.

KOHN: Which is exactly what has been the agenda since the beginning of this administration.

LUTTWAK: Now you're attributing motives.

BACEVICH: Yes, I am! If you read John Yoo, he suggests that one conscious aim of the project was to eliminate constraints on the chief executive when it comes to matters of national security.

DUNLAP: I will say that even if it was a completely legal project, there is a question of how approriate it is for the armed forces to be involved in that kind of activity. Since, as I noted before, the American people have much less confidence in those institutions of civilian control than they do in the armed forces, we need to be very careful about what we ask the military to do, even assuming it's legal.

WASIK: If we are talking about a"creeping coup" that is already under way, in what direction is it creeping?

BACEVICH: The creeping coup deflects attention away from domestic priorities and toward national-security matters, so that is where all our resources get deployed. "Leadership" today is what is demonstrated in the national-security realm. The current presidency is interesting in that regard. What has Bush accomplished apart from posturing in the role of commander-in-chief? He declares wars, he prosecutes wars, he insists we must continue to procsecute wars.

KOHN: By framing the terrorist threat itself as a war, we tend to look upon our national security from a much more military perspective.

BACEVICH: We don't get Social Security reform, we don't get immigration reform. The role of the president increasingly comes to be defined by his military function.

KOHN: And so our foreign policy becomes militarized. We neglect our diplomacy, de-emphasize allies.

DUNLAP: Well, without commenting on this particular subject--

KOHN: You shouldn't. [Laughs]

DUNLAP: --is this not something that is decided at the ballot box? I mean, aren't these the kinds of issues that the American people decide when they elect a president?

KOHN: But you imply by that statement, Charlie, that the ballot box exists as a kind of pristine, uncontextualized Athenian gathering at the square to vote. In fact, the ballot box in this country is the product of how things are framed by the political parties, by the political leaders. Also, very few of our congressional districts now are really contested, after gerrymandering. Very few of our Senate seats are real contests.

LUTTWAK: It becomes about personalities; you ask an American citizen to choose between Laura Bush and Teresa Heinz Kerry, and they choose Laura Bush. But it doesn't mean that they favor the misuse of the American military to try and change the political culture of Afghanistan. This is madness--and it is bipartisan madness.

BACEVICH: That's a key point.

LUTTWAK: Bipartism madness. This is not even militarism. Militarism had to do with eminent professors of Greek desperate to become reserve officers so they could be invited to the miitary ball. That's militarism. This is an intoxication about what the actual capabilities of any military force could be.

DUNLAP: This intoxication with the military's capabilities certainly isn't coming from the uniformed military officers.

BACEVICH: Except insofar as they are involved in the playing of plitics, in constantly pressing for more resources. Meanwhile, we've underfunded the State Department for twenty-five years.

LUTTWAK: I once was privy to a peace negotiation conducted in the corridors of the State Department. The State Department literally had no funds to give lunch to the participants, a fact that both sides complained bitterly about.

Dunlap: Well, I don't think it's anything new that the State Department is underfunded. The State Department has no bases in any state, so it does not have a constituency. But in terms of the expenditure of resources in the Department of Defense, that is very much controlled by civilians and not military commanders.

LUTTWAK: But it is still the military that has the resources.

BACEVICH: And so over time--because this has happened over time--you create a bias for military action. Which agency of government has the capacity to act? Well, the Department of Defense does. And that bias gets continually reinforced, and helps to create a circumstance in which any president who wants to appear effective, and therefore to win reelection, sees that the opportunity to do so is by acting in the military sphere.

IV.

WASIK: I want to address the question of partisanship in the military. Insofar as there is a "culture war" in America, everyone seems to agree that the armed forces fight on the Republican side. And this is borne out in polls: self-described Republicans outnumber Democrats in the military by more than four to one, and only 7 percent of soldiers describe themselves as "liberal."

KOHN: It has become part of the informal culture of the military to be Republican. You see this at the military academies. They pick it up in the culture, in the training establishments.

DUNLAP: The military is an inherently conservative organization, and this is true of all militaries around the world. Also, the demographics have changed: people in the South who were Democratic twenty years ago have become Republican today.

BACEVICH: Yes, all militaries are conservative. But since 1980 our military has become conservative in a more explicitly ideological sense. And that allegiance has been returned in spades by the conservative side in the culture war, which see soldiers as virtuous representatives of how the country ought to be.

KOHN: And meanwhile there is a streak of antimilitarism on the left.

BACEVICH: It's not that people on the left disdain the military but rather that they are just agnostic about it. They don't identify with soldiers or soldiering.

LUTTWAK: And their children have less of a propensity to serve in the military. Parents who describe themselves as liberal are less likely to make positive noises to their children about the armed forces.

DUNLAP: Which brings up a crucial point. Let's accept as a fact that the U.S. military has become more overtly ideological since 1980. What has happened since 1980? Roughly, that was the beginning of the all-volunteer force. What we are seeing right now is the result of twenty-five years of an all-volunteer force, in which people have self-selected into the organization.

BACEVICH: But the military is also recruited. And it doesn't seem to me that the military has much interest in whether or not the force is representative of American society.

KOHN: I don't think that's true.

BACEVICH: Where do you think recruiting command is focused right now? It's focused on those evangelicals, it's on the rural South. We are reinforcing the lack of representativeness in the military because of the concentrated recruiting efforts among groups predisposed to serve.

DUNLAP: They are so focused on getting qualified people. The military is going to the Supreme Court so that it can recruit on campuses where currently we're not able to.

KOHN: That's just law schools.

DUNLAP: But it has implications across the armed forces.

BACEVICH: The recruiters go for the rich turf, which is where evangelicals are. You have to work a hell of a lot harder to recruit people from Newton and Wellesley, Massachusetts.

KOHN: Or anywhere in the well-to-do or even middle-class suburbs.

BACHEVICH: In an economic sense, the services are behaving quite rationally. But in doing so they perpetuate the fact that we have a military that in no way "looks like" American society.

DUNLAP: The other part of the problem is the behavior of the politicians. They realize the affection that American people have for people in uniform.

BACEVICH: And so they land on aircraft carriers to prance around in the flight suit of a fighter jock. Both parties now see the military vote as being a part of politics, as a constituency. It's a constituency that the Democrats want to pry away.

KOHN: And partisanship in the military overall, i.e., the percentage of the military that identifies with a party as opposed to being "independent" or non-affiliated, is much greater overall. Not only are military officers more partisan than the general population; they're more partisan than, say, business leaders and other elite groups. I've tracked the numbers of retired four-star generals and admirals endorsing a candidate in presidential campaigns, and it's vastly up in the last two elections.

BACEVICH: Remember at the Democratic National Convention, where General Claudia Kennedy introduced General John Shalikashvili to address the delegates? Why were they up there? There was only one reason: to try to match the parade of retired senior officers that the Republicans have long been trotting out on political occasions.

KOHN: But is that to get military votes? Or just to connect with the American people on national security and patriotism?

BACEVICH: It's both. In 2000, the Republican National Committee put ads in the Army Times and other service magazines attacking the Clinton/Gore record. To me that was, quite frankly, contemptible.

WASIK: It seems as if the two are related: if it's reported that you have the support of the military--as was the case before the 2004 election, when newspapers noted that Kerry had less than 20 percent support within the military--then you get a halo effect among the rest of the voters. Does the partisanship of our military present a danger to the nation?

KOHN: One of the great pillars in our history that has prevented military intervention in politics has been the military's nonpartisan attitude. That's why General George Marshall's generation of officers essentiallly declined to vote at all, as did generations before them. In fact, for the first time in over a century we now have an officer corps that does identify overwhelmingly with one political party. And that is corrosive.

V.

KOHN: Consider this glaring example of political manipulation by the military: After every other American war before the Cold War, the country demobilized its wartime military establishment. Even during the Cold War, when we kept a large standing military, we expanded and contracted it for shooting wars. But in 1990 and 1991, the military--through General Colin Powell, who was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time--intervened and effectively prevented a demobilization.

BACEVICH: More accurately, I'd say that he prevented any discussion of a demobilization.

KOHN: That's right.

DUNLAP: We did have a reduction in the size of the military. There were cuts of around 9 percent, in both dollars and manpower.

KOHN: But it was nothing compared to the end of great American wars prior to that.

BACEVICH: Powell is explicit on this in his memoirs. "I was determined to have the Joint Chiefs drive the military strategy train," he wrote. He was not going to have "military reorganization schemes shoved down our throat."

HOHN: This was not a coup, but it was very clearly a circumvention of civilian political authority.

BACEVICH: Let us also consider the classic case of gays in the miitary. Bill Clinton ran for the presidency saying he would issue an executive order that did for gays what Harry Truman did for African Americans. He wins the election. When he tries to do precisely what he said he would do, it triggers a firestorm of opposition in the military. This was not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff merely saying, in private,

"Mr. President, I would like to give you my professional opinion."

KOHN: It was the most open revolt the American military, as a whole, has ever engaged in.

LUTTWAK: Ever?

KOHN: Open revolt, yes.

BACEVICH: Now, Clinton's actions were ill-advised, to put it mildly. But what we got was something like rebellion. Two Marines published an op-ed in the Washington Post, warning the Joint Chiefs that if they failed to stop this policy from being implemented, they were likely to lose the loyalty of junior officers. I mean, holy smokes.

DUNLAP: Which brings up the issue: How transparent should the uniformed side of the armed forces be about their opinions? I will tell you, it is very difficult for serving officers to figure out exactly where the line is. There are points where they feel that their military values require them to speak out.

KOHN: I'm not sympathetic. As professional military officers, they are called upon to make far more difficult decisions in far more ambiguous and dangerous situations. The civil-military relationship is one of the most important parts of their profession, and if they are not educated and prepared enough to make the proper judgments, then they don't belong in high-ranking positions.

LUTTWAK: It seems as though we should take into account the views of the armed forces in regard to military questions and nothing more. The military is like a surgeon. If you go to a hospital--even if you own the hospital--you will defer to the surgeon if he tells you that you need your appendix out rather than your leg cut off. But if the surgeon starts talking about religion or politics or homosexuality, you wouldn't defer to him at all.

KOHN: But with gays in the military, the officers framed it in military terms. They said that revoking the ban would destroy the good order and discipline of the armed forces.

LUTTWAK: In the showers.

KOHN: Exactly. In retrospect, it was a foolish argument--but that was how they framed it, in military terms.

LUTTWAK: So how should it have been done differently? President Clinton comes in and wants to allow homosexuals to serve in the military. Do soldiers have the right to express themselves on this?

KOHN: Not publicly.

DUNLAP: By law, you can contact your congressman.

LUTTWAK: Right.

DUNLAP: That may be the answer. The answer may be you can just do it on an individual basis.

KOHN: On a private basis.

LUTTWAK: But let's consider a more recent example. On day General Eric Shinseki, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, happened to be testifying on Capitol Hill. Somebody asked him about a possible invasion of Iraq, and General Shinseki--reflecting what, as I understand it, was the view of anyone who had ever looked at that country and counted its population--said that it would take several hundred thousand troops to control Iraq. Whereupon Shinseki was publicly contradicted by his civilian superiors, who ridiculed his professional opinion.

DUNLAP: Right. Dick, do you consider that to have been appropriate feedback for him?

KOHN: No, Shinseki behaved appropriately. In contradicting and disparaging him, the civilians signalled to the military that they did not want candor even when it is required, which is in front of Congress.

DUNLAP: There are two other interesting examples with General Pace, our current chairman. One was when he differed with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld about what a military person should do if he or she is present when there's an abuse during an interrogation process. Pace insisted that the military had the obligation to intervene--which I think is the right answer.

KOHN: But afterward he fudged it and claimed that there was no disagreement with the secretary.

DUNLAP: Be that as it may, I think it was the right answer. The second and, I think, more difficult scenario was when Representative Jack Murtha said that he wouldn't join the armed forces today, nor would he expect others to do so. General Pace publicly criticized Murtha's remarks. Here was another instance in which the senior representative of the uniformed military spoke out in what was arguably a political context against civilian leadership. But in this case again, I thought it was appropriate.

WASIK: So it seems clear that whether we like it or not, the military has learned how to use the political system to protect its interests and also to uphold what it sees as its values. Thinking over the long term, are there any dangers inherent in this?

KOHN: Well, at this point the military has a long tradition of getting what it wants. If we ever attempted to truly demobilize--i.e., if the military were suddenly, radically cut back--it could lead if not to a coup then to very severe civil-military tension.

BACEVICH: Because the political game would no longer be prejudiced in the military favor.

KOHN: That's right.

BACEVICH: But there is a more subtle danger too. The civilian leadership knows that in dealing with the military, they are dealing with an institution whose behavior is not purely defined by adherence to the military professional ethic, disinterested service, civilian subordination. Instead, the politicians know that they're dealing with an institution that, to some degree, has its own agenda. And if you're dealing with somebody who has his own agenda, well, you can bargain, you can trade. That creates a small opening--again, not to a coup but to the military making deals with politicians whose purposes may not be consistent with the Constitution.

End of article.

Copyright Harpers Magazine April 2006

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is, today, in the US a crypto-fascist government that mouths all the right platitudes, yet fraudulently orchestrates electoral theft, consistently disregards the laws of the land, ignores the will of the people, and has demonstrated it is prepared to commit even treason in order to pursue its own interests, at the expense of the nation's interests. It can do so because the men who run this government deem themselves to be "exceptionalists." They justify their actions to themselves by claiming that these are exceptional times ["Everything changed on Nine-One-One"], that call for exceptional measures ["A global war on terror"] to be taken by exceptional men. ["The fate of our nation hangs in the balance."] Which is precisely the exemptive rationalization of those who would organize a coup d'etat. ["The fate of our nation hangs in the balance."]

There has been no more clearcut example of this in my lifetime, yet the people remain either apathetically docile or convinced they are powerless to change it. According to Jonas' calculations, this combination of factors should be the perfect petri dish for a coup d'etat, yet polite society and the chattering classes cannot even bring themselves to say the word "impeachment," let alone foment for a coup. This so-called President is historically unpopular, and pursuing policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of all others. And not a damned thing will be done about it, because the second part of that sentence outweighs the importance of the first part of that sentence.

However, if this so-called President were popular, and pursuing policies that benefit all others at the expense of the wealthy..... that's the political topography which makes a coup d'etat not just conceivable, but inevitable.

Robert, as always, a perceptive post. Like you I am an outsider who sees US as a “crypto-fascist government”. However, I do not see any danger of a coup d’etat taking place. This is a strategy of last resort. At the moment the Bush administration is firmly in control of the situation. I fully expect Bush to be eventually replaced by a more articulate, more competent, politician willing to do the bidding of the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence Complex. This person will continue to dish out large contracts to arms companies but will be much more careful about getting involved in wars it cannot win.

In my opinion, the coup d’etat only becomes a real possibility if the power of the MICIC is threatened. That is what JFK did and that is why I believe he was removed in the way that he was.

Nor do I see the American public as apathetic. Recent polls show 47% of Americans “strongly disapproving” of George Bush. The problem is, what are Americans going to do about it? The answer is definitely not about electing another politician willing to follow the orders of the MICIC.

I think that America needs another “Watergate”. This would force Americans to think deeply about the way their political system functions.

We have a Watergate developing in the UK at the moment. See:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=6382

I am hopeful that this scandal with eventually expose the corrupt relationship between politicians and corporations (Iraq, PFI, etc.)

It is already raising questions about the UK’s corrupt political system. Other than revolution, I cannot see any way that countries like the US and the UK can solve the problems of the corporate state. A high-profile political scandal seems to be the best way forward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Other than revolution, I cannot see any way that countries like the US and the UK can solve the problems of the corporate state. A high-profile political scandal seems to be the best way forward.

If government complicity in 9/11 is not a high-profile political scandal, I don't know what is. But the only protest going on in U.S. streets is about illegal immigration (for, not against).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that a traditionally concieved coup d'etat is unlikely, but definitely not impossible. The reason is that

I think power is now used in a much more sophisitcated way to muddle and divide opposition movements, so that a threat to the Military Industrial COngressional Intelligence Complex can never grow to the extent THAT A TRADITIONAL COUP IS EVEN NECESSARY!

Can't what happened on and after 9/11 be considered a new kind of coup: one based on limiting legislative and media dissention to such an extreme extent that serious dissent is not disseminated to more than a thousand people at a time, thus making it very difficult for a unified opposition to gell in spite of their common beliefs? The key phrase from Federalist 10 comes to mind: "making it impossible for them (a "majority faction") to realize their own stregnth."

In the 1700s they made a distinction between the gov. and the "body politic". Although I have been no less amazed than Robert at the sheep like nature of our shopulace, I dont think this is the same as indifference.

What is going on here is that the"body politic" --through an incredible number of "advancements" in propaganda research, and their institutional manifestations-- have gotten beheaded. (The body politics means the people and their political organizations Independent of the GOV.) The gov used to sort of have to reflect some of the basic wishes of the majority of the population. True this was often "filtered" through legislators who would blunt the message of the majority in favor of the rich.

But think how different things are today in the US

1. The anti-war movement HAS TO EXIST VIRTUALLY NO REPRESENTATION IN THE GOV, EVEN THOUGH ANTI- WAR SENTIMENT WAS PASSING 50 PERCENT. What are the implications of this. Anti-war citizens almost never get to see a clear anti-war position on national TV or radio or newspapers. The strategically ambigous pronouncemnts of our Blair-like DLC DNC leadership are almost.......

2. WORSE THAN SILENCE! Why? Because the comments of The Nevada Sphinx (that heaping clump of Charisma, Harry Reid) Clinton, Kerry and the well- heeled democrats only serve to DIVIDE THAT PART OF THE BODY POLITIC which might otherwise emerge to become a clear challenge to the Bush priorities. It is true that there have been some dem. dissiedents, but these have largely served a strategic "broad--and powerless--tent" function for the DLC DNC moneybags.

3.. The importance of a national talking head or heads that can say the same thing coast to coast is of tremendous importance in forms of getting oppositon movements to become unified. Recall, that J. Edgar Hoover himself typed in 1964 that the "black nationalist" ( a misnomer) movements were not so dangerous provided that they remain local and unconnected, but that THE MAIN GOAL OF COINTELPRO WAS TO PREVENT THE EMERGENCE OF A NATIONAL LEADER WHO could patch up this quilt coast to coast.

4. This disconnect between the gov and the body politic is by no means only reflected in foreign policy. Right now the support for national health care is somewhere between 70 and 80%. Yet you cant hear the words from a single politician.

5. Of course the media is doing its job of not mediating any criticism of Bush. The latest strategy seems to be having fifteen different Bush scandals going on at once, WHILE ONLY RETURNING TO ANY ONE OF THEM TO CONNECT THE DOTS EVERY FIFTEENTH DAY! Note how this serves two functions for Bush 1) it upholds they myth of an "agressive critical media" that is "liberal?--what does this word mean right now?" 2) it is in reality Bush's life vest, because any one story that might otherwise lead to impeachement is only on the front page once every two weeks. Recall that Watergate was on the front page virtually every day for three years.

With this and much more untyped ( mainly advances in Communications Reserch) it is no wonder the opposition to the war and the growth of theMilitary Industrial Regime seems to wonder around like a headless horseman.

Should the general people be able to figure out whats going on anyway? Yes, Robert, Im not letting them of the hook. All I'm saying is that this CORPORATION OGOVERNMENT OF 2006 EXISTS ENTIRELY INDEPENDENTLY FROM POPULAR SENTIMENT TOWARDS REAL ISSUES. ALMOST EVERY ISSUE THE POPULACE IS ASKED TO CHAT ABOUT IS FAKE, AND MANUFACTURED by consultants e.g. gay marriage, Terry Schiavo, the ports, et al.

To conclude, that the public is indifferent is, is therefor a mistake. The Estates General was an ossified political institution that reflected nothing of France's popular sentiment in 1789. Our Congress is giving the EG some pretty stiff competiion right now. But lets not use either as an indice or popular opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The points raised in both articles are obviously well thought out, at the same time I would raise the issue of the inherent power of the Executive Office, with the academics and scholars on one hand and what is the much maligned faction derisively known as 'conspiract theorist's' on the other, the issue of 'Executive Orders' is a controversy within a controversy.

The use of Executive Orders with regards to the Executive Branch appears to have begun at a trickle under the Eisenhower Administration and then increasing during the administrations of JFK, LBJ, Carter and Ronald Reagan; as the use of Executive Orders increased so did the significance of the issues they were addressing. By the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and our current Pres. George W. Bush, Executive Orders have been issued with broad and far-reaching consequences; delving into areas such as F.E.M.A., just to mention one.

The argument could be made that the use, or abuse, of Executive Orders within the Executive Branch could concievably produce a similar result to a coup d'etat if the Legislative and Judicial Branches were part of a mechanism driven by a similar ideological agenda within the 'apparatus of government.'

The view of a compromised media, I submit is not the exclusive domain of the 'right' or the 'left.' Although one might be surprised to think that many American's realize the media has, in effect been compromised, I submit that in the year 2006 this is becoming more and more a reality.

Which gets back to the central point, how easy or difficult would it be to pull off a coup d'etat? It might not be as difficult as the 'enlightened ones' argue that it would be, if it wasn't a coup d'etat in the literal sense, but produced arguably, the same effect.

Edited by Robert Howard
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Article by Greg Palast:

The Guardian

Friday, April 14, 2006

Well, here they come: the wannabe Rommels, the gaggle of generals, safely retired, to lay siege to Donald Rumsfeld. This week, six of them have called for the Secretary of Defense's resignation.

Well, according to my watch, they're about four years too late -- and they still don't get it.

I know that most of my readers will be tickled pink that the bemedalled boys in crew cuts are finally ready to kick Rummy in the rump, in public. But to me, it just shows me that these boys still can't shoot straight.

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who stood up in front of the UN and identified two mobile latrines as biological weapons labs, was it, General Powell?

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who told us our next warning from Saddam could be a mushroom cloud, was it Condoleezza?

It wasn't Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who declared that Al Qaeda and Saddam were going steady, was it, Mr. Cheney?

Yes, Rumsfeld is a swaggering bag of mendacious arrogance, a duplicitous chicken-hawk, yellow-bellied bully-boy and Tinker-Toy Napoleon -- but he didn't appoint himself Secretary of Defense.

Let me tell you a story about the Secretary of Defense you didn't read in the New York Times, related to me by General Jay Garner, the man our president placed in Baghdad as the US' first post-invasion viceroy.

Garner arrived in Kuwait City in March 2003 working under the mistaken notion that when George Bush called for democracy in Iraq, the President meant the Iraqis could choose their own government. Misunderstanding the President's true mission, General Garner called for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. "It's their country," the General told me of the Iraqis. "And," he added, most ominously, "their oil."

Let's not forget: it's all about the oil. I showed Garner a 101-page plan for Iraq's economy drafted secretly by neo-cons at the State Department, Treasury and the Pentagon, calling for "privatization" (i.e. the sale) of "all state assets ... especially in the oil and oil-supporting industries." The General knew of the plans and he intended to shove it where the Iraqi sun don't shine. Garner planned what he called a "Big Tent" meeting of Iraqi tribal leaders to plan elections. By helping Iraqis establish their own multi-ethnic government -- and this was back when Sunnis, Shias and Kurds were on talking terms -- knew he could get the nation on its feet peacefully before a welcomed "liberation" turned into a hated "occupation."

But, Garner knew, a freely chosen coalition government would mean the death-knell for the neo-con oil-and-assets privatization grab.

On April 21, 2003, three years ago this month, the very night General Garner arrived in Baghdad, he got a call from Washington. It was Rumsfeld on the line. He told Garner, in so many words, "Don't unpack, Jack, you're fired."

Rummy replaced Garner, a man with years of on-the-ground experience in Iraq, with green-boots Paul Bremer, the Managing Director of Kissinger Associates. Bremer cancelled the Big Tent meeting of Iraqis and postponed elections for a year; then he issued 100 orders, like some tin-pot pasha, selling off Iraq's economy to U.S. and foreign operators, just as Rumsfeld's neo-con clique had desired.

Reading this, it sounds like I should applaud the six generals' call for Rumfeld's ouster. Forget it.

For a bunch of military hotshots, they sure can't shoot straight. They're wasting all their bullets on the decoy. They've gunned down the puppet instead of the puppeteers.

There's no way that Rumsfeld could have yanked General Garner from Baghdad without the word from The Bunker. Nothing moves or breathes or spits in the Bush Administration without Darth Cheney's growl of approval. And ultimately, it's the Commander-in-Chief who's chiefly in command.

Even the generals' complaint -- that Rumsfeld didn't give them enough troops -- was ultimately a decision of the cowboy from Crawford. (And by the way, the problem was not that we lacked troops -- the problem was that we lacked moral authority to occupy this nation. A million troops would not be enough -- the insurgents would just have more targets.)

President Bush is one lucky fella. I can imagine him today on the intercom with Cheney: "Well, pardner, looks like the game's up." And Cheney replies, "Hey, just hang the Rumsfeld dummy out the window until he's taken all their ammo."

When Bush and Cheney read about the call for Rumsfeld's resignation today, I can just hear George saying to Dick, "Mission Accomplished."

Generals, let me give you a bit of advice about choosing a target: It's the President, stupid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. The anti-war movement HAS TO EXIST VIRTUALLY NO REPRESENTATION IN THE GOV, EVEN THOUGH ANTI- WAR SENTIMENT WAS PASSING 50 PERCENT. What are the implications of this. Anti-war citizens almost never get to see a clear anti-war position on national TV or radio or newspapers. The strategically ambigous pronouncemnts of our Blair-like DLC DNC leadership are almost.......

2. WORSE THAN SILENCE! Why? Because the comments of The Nevada Sphinx (that heaping clump of Charisma, Harry Reid) Clinton, Kerry and the well- heeled democrats only serve to DIVIDE THAT PART OF THE BODY POLITIC which might otherwise emerge to become a clear challenge to the Bush priorities. It is true that there have been some dem. dissiedents, but these have largely served a strategic "broad--and powerless--tent" function for the DLC DNC moneybags.

3.. The importance of a national talking head or heads that can say the same thing coast to coast is of tremendous importance in forms of getting oppositon movements to become unified. Recall, that J. Edgar Hoover himself typed in 1964 that the "black nationalist" ( a misnomer) movements were not so dangerous provided that they remain local and unconnected, but that THE MAIN GOAL OF COINTELPRO WAS TO PREVENT THE EMERGENCE OF A NATIONAL LEADER WHO could patch up this quilt coast to coast.

4. This disconnect between the gov and the body politic is by no means only reflected in foreign policy. Right now the support for national health care is somewhere between 70 and 80%. Yet you cant hear the words from a single politician.

5. Of course the media is doing its job of not mediating any criticism of Bush. The latest strategy seems to be having fifteen different Bush scandals going on at once, WHILE ONLY RETURNING TO ANY ONE OF THEM TO CONNECT THE DOTS EVERY FIFTEENTH DAY! Note how this serves two functions for Bush 1) it upholds they myth of an "agressive critical media" that is "liberal?--what does this word mean right now?" 2) it is in reality Bush's life vest, because any one story that might otherwise lead to impeachement is only on the front page once every two weeks. Recall that Watergate was on the front page virtually every day for three years.

It is difficult to see how America is a democracy when the two dominant parties do not reflect such a large percentage of public opinion. If a country is always ruled by one political party, as in the old Soviet Union, it is correctly described as a dictatorship. Is it so different when you are ruled by two political parties that share the same agenda?

The way the political system is organized and funded in the United States makes it impossible for any other political party to challenge the Democrats or Republicans.

Given this situation, a coup d’etat is not necessary. It has already happened.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is difficult to see how America is a democracy when the two dominant parties do not reflect such a large percentage of public opinion. If a country is always ruled by one political party, as in the old Soviet Union, it is correctly described as a dictatorship. Is it so different when you are ruled by two political parties that share the same agenda?

It is a myth that the US has a two party system. There is one party with two wings, as was made evident in the last federal election. Tweedledumb said "I will prosecute this war my way," while Tweedledumber said "I will do the same, only better." The wild card was Howard Dean, but he was dispensed with rather easily. Those who were paying attention knew that it wasn't the 'scream heard 'round the world' that killed Dean's chances, because the scream only came after he'd already lost the key primaries in which it was figured he'd do well. [The over-compensatory scream came while exhorting his supporters to continue in their efforts, despite that day's primary losses.]

Dean was stopped by Bush's team, when they rubbed their hands in glee and said "Please make Dean your candidate so we can run against another McGovern and humilitate you." The Democrats, gutless and fearing that Bush would prove correct, began scouring the undergrowth for somebody more "acceptable" and found the only candidate who made the wooden Al Gore seem like a moonwalking soul brother by comparison. At least had Dean won the nomination, the two candidates would have offered voters a choice between decidedly different platforms and agendas.

The way the political system is organized and funded in the United States makes it impossible for any other political party to challenge the Democrats or Republicans.

Yes, the Republicrats continue to rule the roost. As the wise man once said, "It doesn't matter who you vote for; you always get the government."

Given this situation, a coup d’etat is not necessary. It has already happened.

In my memory, there hasn't been a truly alternative candidate since the coup d'etat of '63. When the best and brightest alternatives for President are repeatedly murdered - or have their campaigns derailed by dirty tricksters - to stifle progress, it is little wonder that the best and brightest no longer seek the position. What's left for the electors is to vote for the least egregious of the bottom feeders. Some choice....

Padded with power here they come

International loan sharks backed by the guns

Of market hungry military profiteers

Whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared

With the blood of the poor

Who rob life of its quality

Who render rage a necessity

By turning countries into labour camps

Modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

Sinister cynical instrument

Who makes the gun into a sacrament --

The only response to the deification

Of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations'

Idolatry of ideology

North South East West

Kill the best and buy the rest

It's just spend a buck to make a buck

You don't really give a flying xxxx

About the people in misery

IMF dirty MF

Takes away everything it can get

Always making certain that there's one thing left

Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

See the paid-off local bottom feeders

Passing themselves off as leaders

Kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows

Open for business like a cheap bordello

And they call it democracy

And they call it democracy

And they call it democracy

And they call it democracy

See the loaded eyes of the children too

Trying to make the best of it the way kids do

One day you're going to rise from your habitual feast

To find yourself staring down the throat of the beast

They call the revolution

IMF dirty MF

Takes away everything it can get

Always making certain that there's one thing left

Keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

AND THEY CALL IT DEMOCRACY - BRUCE COCKBURN - 1985

Edited by Robert Charles-Dunne
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...